New River Facts
- This wonder of Nature, dubbed the New River, actually bears a potentially deceptive name. That’s due to the presence of a certain amount of controversy surrounding its exact age. Some, but not all, geologists consider it one of the oldest rivers on earth.
- Regardless of its status in that regard, however, this amazing work of geological forces still stands out from many similar features in the region. The body of water has long served as an important corridor for the spreading of flora and fauna through the region.
- Several portions of its length now hold man-made dams, for hydroelectricity generation. Some of the surrounding ridges, however, also serve as home to uncommon plants. Thankfully, great care has therefore been taken to preserve these native species.
- Local Native American tribes new of its presence for centuries prior to the arrival of European settlers, of course. The first recorded sighting of it by outsiders occurred in 1671. At that time, members of a fur trading expedition found and explored parts of it.
- Today, local residents greatly enjoy and appreciate its natural beauty. This further takes many forms. These frequently include such activities as kayaking and rafting. Numerous large, open ledges also dot its length, allowing for the creation of fabulous viewing sites.
- The origins of the name New River itself remain undetermined with complete certainty. One theory purports that it derives from a word in the language of the local tribes that means new waters. Several other theories, however, propose other origins.
New River Physical Description
While it’s certainly not the longest river in the world, the New River nevertheless boasts a length that’s quite respectable. Although it takes a somewhat winding course, the overall length of this flow of water measures out to approximately 360 mi (580 km).
It also stands out for another reason. The direction of its flow further distinguishes it from the many other rivers in its part of the world. That’s because it’s believed to be the only major river in the country in which it appears to primarily flow in a northward direction.
Along its wending course, the New River also cuts its way through numerous gorges. Some of these have an impressive depth, with the local walls rising as much as 1,500 ft (457.2 m) above the surface of the water. It also boast numerous areas of powerful rapids.
Its depth varies, in some cases extremely. Along most of its course, the depth varies, reaching as much as 100 ft (30.5 m). In a few sections, this dwindles to no more than a few inches! In areas other than around the rapids, the river typically has a slow, gentle flow.
New River Location, Formation, and Ecology
The controversially-named New River formed in a region of the world well known for its scenic beauty. This region consists of a long-settled portion of North America. More precisely, the natural marvel formed in the southeast portion of the United States.
There, this remarkable flow of water further finds its presence restricted to just 3 states. These fortunate states consist of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Coincidentally, the meandering path it takes flows through far corners of all three of these states.
This wonder originates in a portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwestern North Carolina, themselves part of the Appalachian Mountains. The spot from which it flows, the headwaters, in fact, lies only a short distance from the popular resort town of Boone.
Varying estimates place its time of origin to between 10 and 360 million years ago. During this time, the ancient Appalachian Mountains continued their slow yet inexorable push upward. This gradually altered the direction of its flow, and shortened its length.
The amazing New River also flows through the heart of the largest block of relatively unfragmented, mid-latitude forest still remaining in the world. This serves as home to countless plant varieties, including dozens of different species of trees, largely hardwoods.
Even more impressively, its banks provide a home to a relatively large abundance of flora, both in numbers of species, and sheer volume. This includes many uncommon forms of cedars, pines, and sedges. Some of these, in fact, appear nowhere else on earth.
Equally impressive, however, is the fact that fauna abounds in the region, partly thanks to its presence. Many evolved as endemic, while others migrate along its banks. At least 65 species of mammals live in the region, along with nearly 40 species of reptiles.
The waters of the New River also boast at least seven varieties of fish, with an abundant population. Some of these also appear nowhere else on earth. Many types of insects and birds, migratory and otherwise, appear in the region, including the majestic Bald Eagle.