Just outside of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, you will find a massive racing track named after an American football franchise. Constructed in a triangular pattern, the speedway is one of the largest sports and entertainment venues in the world, capable of holding up to 400,000 spectators. It also hosts the annual Monster Energy Cup Series, an annual ten-race NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, in April, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from all over the world.
Since its opening in 1910, the speedway has been host to some of the most memorable moments in American sports history. It was the site of the 1919 Cherry Blossom Tour, when a record-breaking 38,000 spectators came to see the world’s best cyclists compete in front of an audience that included renowned American bicycle builder and promoter Louis Chevrolet. One of the most prestigious races in the history of the speedway took place on August 31, 1920, when a field of motorcars competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an endurance race that continues to this day. The first televised NASCAR race was also held at the speedway, where it aired live in the 1950s. Fans will always remember the epic battle for the championship between Richard Petty and his arch-rival, Darrell Waltrip, now the race winner, in 1984 and 1985.
Since its inception, the Charlotte Motor Speedway has undergone several expansions and renovations. It currently seats more than 400,000 spectators and features 22 food vendors and 80 drink carts. The speedway continues to attract people from around the world every year, making it one of the most historic venues in North Carolina and the United States.
Why Aren’t People Talking About The Volcanoes In North Carolina?
Located in the middle of the Appalachians, North Carolina is a place famous for its natural beauty and delicious barbecue. The state is also home to the third largest city in the country, Charlotte, a city known for its charming boutiques and incredible culinary scene. If you visit any of these places, you will understand why everyone there is simply calling the area ‘The South’. However, there is so much more to North Carolina than beautiful beaches and delicious food. The state is actually infamous for its active volcanoes. Since the eighteenth century, volcanoes have forced the public to flee from several towns and leave others in complete destruction.
Most people in North Carolina don’t actually know that much about their state’s volcanoes. Fewer than five million people live in the counties close to where the volcanoes are located. There are actually nine volcanoes in North Carolina that are classified as active or potentially active, with one of them, Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the state. The other eight volcanoes are considered dormant, having last erupted several hundred years ago. People in the Appalachian region, where the volcanoes are located, have always known about the existence of these monsters, but as the population in the area has grown, so has ignorance. It would be beneficial for everyone in North Carolina to know a little more about their volcanoes, especially young people who might want to grow up there some day. They would learn a lot more about the environment and the potential dangers that await them.
The History Of The Volcanoes In North Carolina
Since the early years of the state, North Carolina has been home to many volcanoes. The first written record of a volcano in the area is in 1756, when the residents of Abbotsville, North Carolina, built a terrace to watch the sunset as a demonstration that the Earth was not completely settled. Over the years, many people wondered if the Earth was indeed settled and that the mountains were indeed the result of volcanic activity. During the American Revolution, loyalists in the area were tasked with keeping an eye on the volcanoes from their hunting camps, which were located a short distance from the peaks.
During the nineteenth century, scientists discovered that the volcanoes in the area were still active and posed a serious threat to the region. The largest of these volcanoes, Mt. Mitchell, had a prominent and rather dangerous bulge on the side, which rose about 400 feet above the surrounding countryside. In 1855, newspapers in the area warned locals that Mt. Mitchell was still active and needed to be monitored. However, due to poverty in the area and a lack of funding, this warning went unheeded. In 1906, a man named Elmo Robinson wrote a letter to the editor of a local paper, stating that Mt. Mitchell had erupted in 1898 and that several people in the community were still suffering the effects of that last eruption. In the letter, Robinson also mentioned that he had built an ‘eruption shaft’ next to the volcano to study it and prevent the same from happening again.
These days, most people in North Carolina know exactly how dangerous the area’s volcanoes can be. In 2009, a few days before Halloween, an eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines caused global temperatures to rise by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The snow and ice that coated the earth in the winter of 2009 grew thicker as a result of this natural disaster. Some cities, like New York, were so cold that residents wore gloves to go outside and snowplows were common on city streets. The snow and ice also made the air smell wonderful, especially at night, when the temperature dropped enough for the white stuff to settle and for all the odors to be locked away.
Even as recently as July of this year, the world was on the verge of a major eruption at the Mt. Pelee volcano in the Bahamas. The largest volcanic eruption in almost a century was imminent, raising concerns that the tremors would trigger a larger volcanic explosion. Luckily, cooler minds prevailed and the eruption was avoided. Of course, these days, every little tremor and spout of lava is closely monitored and any sign of trouble is taken seriously. The world is a safer place thanks to people like Robinson, who took the time to study and understand the danger the volcanoes represented. Hopefully, with more people paying attention to the environment and the natural world, we can continue to avoid any major eruptions in North Carolina and beyond.
The Volcanoes Of North Carolina
While in most places, the threat of a volcanic eruption is taken seriously, in North Carolina it is generally considered a source of amusement. Tourists come to the area to watch the volcanoes erupt and it is considered a point of pride for the state that these monsters are a major tourist attraction.
Mt. Mitchell, the state’s highest peak, rises abruptly from the surrounding forests and jagged peaks. It’s easy to see why this mountain is considered a major draw for tourists, as its shapely bulk offers wonderful panoramic views of the region. The mountain is actually built up from two volcanoes that joined together during a series of eruptions about 700 years ago. While the original peak is called Mt. Mitchell, the larger, connecting peak is called Middlemountain. This is sometimes a confusing issue for people who live in the area, as Middlemountain is actually the larger of the two peaks. Most people just call the whole thing Mitchell, so it won’t be long before everyone does too.
Another popular tourist destination in North Carolina is Mars Hill, located in the northeastern part of the state. Also known as ‘The Patriot’s Point’, this is the location of a monument to William Winston Seawell, who was a prominent citizen during the American Revolution. Today, Mars Hill is most famous for its spectacular sunset, which provides visitors with one of the best views of the fiery orange ball, setting in a blaze behind the Appalachians.
While most people in North Carolina are happy that the volcanoes are harmless, far away from the peaks, residents are less than enamored with the presence of these monsters. Mount Sante Fe, for example, is located about 115 miles from the nearest town and its eruptive history is unknown. The nearest ‘settled’ town is a little over 25 miles away. Although there have been no eruptions in recent memory, the community would still prefer to be rid of the threat these volcanoes pose. For people who live in the shadow of these magnificent peaks, the threat of an eruption is ever-present and the fear is never far from the surface. The nearest town to the largest supervolcano, Yellowstone, is more than 500 miles away. While there has been no confirmed activity at Yellowstone for centuries, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be in the future. The last devastating eruption of the great supervolcano occurred approximately 640 years ago and it decimated the region. After that, the area became a barren wasteland, covered only in grass and moss. To this day, if you visit the region, you will see the scars of that eruption, in the form of collapsed buildings and deserted villages.