After receiving a number of comments about this post (most of them gently telling me that my information was incorrect), I did additional research about volcanoes in Georgia. Sadly, the comments are correct. Pigeon Mountain isn’t a dormant volcano. In fact, based on the more extensive research I did, the geology just doesn’t work. Most of the rock in the area is sandstone or limestone and doesn’t lend itself to volcanic activity. Though what is now Georgia had volcanic activity hundreds of millions of years ago, Pigeon Mountain wasn’t part of it. So, please forgive my error and thanks for all the corrections submitted to me!
Volcanoes – in Georgia???
When you think of volcanoes in the US, where do you think of them? Hawaii is a good bet, since there are 3 active volcanoes in the state. Maunaloa last erupted in 1984, but Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. In addition, Loihi is still underwater, but erupting.
How about Alaska? Lots of volcanic activity up there. Or maybe the Pacific Northwest? Mount St. Helen, Mount Shasta, Mount Rainier all come to mind. There are even a few in California that are monitored by the USGS. And, we all know about Yellowstone and the supervolcano lurking beneath the surface.
But, have you ever thought about volcanoes in Georgia? Believe it or not, Pigeon Mountain in Northwest Georgia is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1857. Besides Pigeon Mountain itself, in the Pigeon Mountain Volcanic Range there are 5 extinct volcanoes and 1 collapsed caldera. As you can see, this isn’t an impressive volcano.
Located in Walker County Georgia near Lafayette, Pigeon Mountain features two caves. One of them, Ellison’s Cave is the 12th deepest cave in the US and reaches a depth of 1063 feet. According to Wikipedia, it a a technically difficult cave to explore and beginners are severely urged not to enter the cave.
The second cave, Petty John’s Cave, is a wild cave – not commercialized. As Wikipedia tells us, this is a cave much more suited to beginners. Still the basics of caving (spelunking) should be observed.
Between the two caves, explorers have mapped more than 20 miles of passages. It might be a cool trip for experienced cavers to experience. Since I’m not, I doubt I’ll be going in the caves.
So, what can you expect to find when exploring near dormant or extinct volcanoes? Well, for Pigeon Mountain, iron (usually in the form of hematite). No diamonds or any other precious gemstones are listed in the area, but the ghost town of Estelle is on Pigeon Mountain. Estelle was a iron mining town, so maybe there is a bit of iron left to find! And hematite tumbles into a beautiful silver stone.
Much like the abundance of gemstones in the North Georgia Mountains, I had no idea volcanoes had ever played a part in Georgia’s history. I’ll keep researching and let you know what I discover. And who knows, maybe what I find will become part of my next book, just as gemstones played a major role in The Gemstone Chronicles!
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