Sunday, February 9, 2014

Piece-by-Piece--Hiking Knoxville's Urban Wilderness Trail

Piece-by-Piece is the name of a series of hikes scheduled monthly by Ijams Nature Center, and led by naturalist, Stephen Lyn Bales.  These hikes will traverse the South Loop of Knoxville's Urban Wilderness Trail in 2-3 mile sections.  
Saturday, Feb 8th included the Ross Marble Quarry Natural Area, an area of natural limestone deposits, quarried by the Ross Marble Company beginning in 1881.  The area is an interesting combination of large quarried limestone block, some stacked into towering walls, and nature's gradual reclaiming of the area.  The marble produced here was not true marble but a crystalline limestone that polished easily and had an attractive pinkish-gray appearance.  It became known as Tennessee Marble and has been highly favored for use in buildings and monuments in Tennessee, New York and Washington. DC.
Above, an area of slag deposits, the "ashes" created from a lime kiln used to convert broken chunks of limestone into agricultural lime powder.  As the slag area is reclaimed by nature, it supports cedars that favor its alkaline quality.  
As we reached the trail end in the Hayworth Hollow area, we were surrounded by towering stacks of limestone rock.  Large chunks of limestone that were not used for marble were stacked into these enormous walls. The reddish coloration seen in some of the blocks is caused by iron oxide which leaves a rust-like stain.



A system of caves runs under the limestone deposits in this area and provides habitat for the endangered Berry Cave Salamander (Gyrinophylus gulolineatus).  Several species of bats are also known to roost in these caves which are gated to protect wildlife.
Lyn, a master naturalist, turned over some leaves in the pond to demonstrate how you can generally find salamanders and recognize salamander eggs during breeding season.  A talented story teller and author of two books and numerous articles, he shared some tales of frogs and salamanders from his years growing up in the Smoky Mountains.


Further down the trail we explored the Keyhole "wall" at the Ross Marble Quarry, below.  At the top of the wall you can see railing that was installed to offer a safe crossing as you continue on the trail. 
The limestone desposits that included the prized industrial grade limestone sold as Tennessee marble in the area are part of the underlying Holston Formation that passes through the 300-acre Ijams property.  
You can walk through the keyhole to explore the other side.  The images immediately above and below were taken at a different time of year and show the proportional size of the keyhole feature.
On our return to the trail head, we hiked along the ridge with a distant view of the Smokies on one side and blocks of limestone on the other.  

Links and Resources:

Tennessee Marble
Ijams Nature Center
Stephen Lyn Bales--Nature Calling
Marble Quarry Map
Piece-by-Piece--Urban Wilderness South Loop
Knoxville's Urban Wilderness
Legacy Parks Foundation--Knoxville's Urban Wilderness hike descriptions with trail maps
More about geological features of the area:  Ottosee shale to Lenoir limestone

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Ocean Trail at Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, California--2015

Bird-banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park--2014

Bird-banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park--2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Bird-banding at Seven Islands

Bird-banding at Seven Islands
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane banners and son, John--2014

The Incredible Muir Woods near Stinson Beach, CA--2014

The Incredible Muir Woods near Stinson Beach, CA--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Me and Denali--2012

Me and Denali--2012
Photo courtesy of Bob King

For the Love of It...

...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.
Sendivogius (1750)

Your Uncapped Creativity...

Your Uncapped Creativity...
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." ----the great dancer, Martha Graham