Black Mountains, the culminating group of the Appalachian system (see Appalachian Mountains), named from the dark growth of balsam firs and other evergreens which cover their summits, situated in Yancey and Buncombe counties, North Carolina, between the main central ridges on the west and a portion of the Blue Ridge on the east. Unlike the other ridges of the Alleghanies, they lie for the most part transverse to the general trend of the range, and give this direction to the great valleys and rivers included between them. They rise from a district of great elevation, the height of the valley at Asheville, on the French Broad River, being about 2,000 ft. above the sea, and that of Toe river at Burnsville, Yancey county, about 2,500 ft. From this plateau the drainage is toward the Ohio in a northerly direction by the branches of the Great Kanawha, by those of the Hol-ston and the French Broad toward the southwest, and by those of the Yadkin and the Catawba into the Pedee and Santee toward the southeast. This position at the sources of streams flowing in such diverse directions long since pointed out this district as probably the most elevated east of the Rocky mountains.
The botanists Michaux, father and son, were led to the same opinion by their observations upon the northern character of the forest growth with which these mountains are covered. In 1835 the first attempts to determine the elevation of the greatest heights were made by Dr. E. Mitchell, professor in the university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The principal peak, called Clingman's peak, but known in North Carolina as Mt. Mitchell, he estimated to be 0,470 ft. above the sea; and in 1844 he visited the localitv again, and made the height 6,672 ft. In 1855 the Hon. T. L. Clingman of North Carolina made the elevation 6,941 ft., and in 1850 Prof. Guyot determined the highest point, which he then called the Black Dome, to be 6,700 ft. high. The following are the elevations and names of the 12 highest points, all of which are higher than Mt, Washington in New Hampshire, as published in 1857 from the investigations of Prof. Guyot:
1. Clingman's Peak.......
2. Guyot'a Peak, or Balsam Cone..
8. Sandoz Knob...........
4. Hairy Bear........
5. Cat-Tail Peak.......
6. Gibbe's Peak
7. Mitchell's Peak.
8. Sugar-Loaf, or Hallback Peak...
9. Potato Top........
10. Black Knob... ___
11. Bowler's Pyramid.
12. Roan Mountain...
The summit of Mt. Washington is 6,285 ft. above the level of the sea. In 1857 Dr. Mitchell lost his life in a third excursion to these mountains, for the purpose of establishing his claim to having first measured the elevation of the highest summit, the honor of which was also claimed by the Hon. Mr. Clingman.