Kentucky Travel İnformation

Southeastern Part Of State, Harlan County. Closest Town: Harlan. As You Leave The Town Of Harlan Heading North, You Will See A Left Turn Onto Route 840. Follow 840 For A Few Miles Until It Runs Into U.S. 119. At This Intersection, Make A Left And Then An Immediate Right At The Sign For Camp Blanton. If You Are Coming From Interstate 75, Take Exit 29 Onto Highway 25 East To Pineville. Make A Left On U.S. 119 North And Continue For 23.5 Miles. Turn Left At The Sign For Camp Blanton. Follow This Very Windy Road For One Mile, And You Will See Clearly Marked Signs To The Parking Area On The Right.

Kentucky Travel İnformation Photo Gallery

As Soon As I Had Parked At The Trail, Gotten Out For A Stretch, And Reached For My Daypack, A Smallish White Dog Approached Me Wagging His Tail. At The Sign-In Station, He Waited Patiently. He Knew Exactly What I Was There For And Seemed Eager To Accompany Me. My Furry New Friend Then Escorted Me Through An Eerily Empty Boy Scout Camp And Led Me To The Trailhead.

The Densely Shaded Trail Was Lovely Right From The Start. The Spring Wild-Flowers Had Passed, But Many Varied And Beautiful Mushrooms Entertained Me As I Walked. Here Were My Old Friends The Hemlocks, And Under Them Evergreen-Leaved Rhododendron Shrubs, And There, A New Tree, The Fraser Magnolia. If I Had Been Here In The Springtime, I Would Have Seen Their White Blossoms, Up To A Foot Wide, But In This Season I Had To Be Satisfied With Their Red Cones Littering The Forest Floor. One Type Of Tiny White Mushroom Grows Only On Magnolia Cones, But I Saw None Of Those.

By Evolutionary Standards, The Family Of Plants Called Magnoliaceae Is Ancient. They Originated In Asia, Where They Were Among The Earliest Seed- Producing Plants, And Some Of The First To Be Insect-Pollinated. When The Earth’S Climate Warmed Considerably, About Fifty Million Years Ago, The Magnolias Spread Across The High Latitudes Of The Northern Hemisphere And Eventually Into The Land Mass We Now Call America. Ten Million Years Later, The Climate Cooled Drastically Again, And The Warmth-Loving Magnolias Across Much Of North America Died Off. The Survivors, Cut Off From The Larger Gene Pool, Evolved Into New Species Over Time. So The Fraser Magnolia Has Asian Ancestry, But Is 100 Percent American Now. It Occurs Naturally Nowhere In The World But The Hilly Parts Of These Appalachian States. I Never Would Have Seen This Tree In The Wild If I Had Stayed Home.

Ecologist Lucy Braun Called This Area Of Kentucky The “Mixed- Mesophytic Forest,” Which Means The Climate Is Neither Very Wet Nor Very Dry And The Forest Is Composed Of Both Evergreen And Deciduous Tree Species. In Fact, It Is The Most Tree Species-Rich Of All The Eastern Deciduous Forest Types And Was Her Favorite Place To Be. Trees With Restricted Ranges, Such As The Fraser Magnolia, Grow Here Alongside More Widespread Species. This Diversity Is A Result Of Many Factors Varied Terrain, A Favorable Rainfall Pattern, Mild Temperatures But Past Climate Changes Were The Primary Driver. When The Ice Age Arrived And The Glaciers Advanced, Much Of The South Came To Be Covered In Conifers, But Some Of The Older, Warm-Climate Vegetation Survived In Scattered Refuges. When Conditions Turned More Favorable, The Various Species Could Begin Their Outward Migration From These Refuges. Some Species, Such As Oaks, Migrated Very Quickly To Occupy Land Left Behind After The Glaciers Or Seas Retreated, But Other Species, Such As This Small Magnolia, Remained Very Restricted In Range.

We Tend To Think Of Tree Migration As Something That Happened In The Past, That Species Are Now “Set” In Their Distribution Range, But This Viewpoint Is Completely Wrong. For As Long As Trees Have Existed, They Have Been Moving Across The Landscape. They Migrate Slowly, To Be Sure, Dependent On Animals Or Chance Events For Seed Dispersal, But Trees Have Always Moved And Continue To Move. The Wild Sweetbay Magnolia That Grows Near My Maryland Home Is Probably Migrating Very Slowly Northward At This Moment, Helped Along By Global Warming.

Like Me, Lucy Braun Used To Seek Out Old-Growth Forests. She Would Drive For Days, And Then Walk For Days, To Reach A Special Location. In 1936, She Visited An Old-Growth, Mixed-Mesophytic Forest In Southeastern Kentucky. She Described What It Was Like:

We Are Entering A Veritable Cathedral, Its Roof Upheld By Towering Columns The Tall And Stately Tulip Trees. Where Before They Had Been Scattered, Rising Here And There Between The Other Trees, Now They Outnumber All Others, Sheltering In Their Shade Large Beech And Sugar Maple. The Herbaceous Growth Is Even More Luxuriant Than Before; Masses Of Narrow-Leaved Spleenwort And Silvery Spleenwort, Waist-High Are All About. Hidden More Or Less By This Luxuriance, And Inconspicuous Because Past Blooming, Are Yellow Lady’S Slippers And Showy Orchids.

The Leaves Of Trillium, Bellwort, Phlox, Spotted Mandarin, Buttercups, Foam-Flower And A Host Of Other Spring Flowering Plants Stirred Our Imagination And Painted The Hillsides In Spring Bloom. But Dominating All Is The Primeval Grandeur Of A Forest….And Then, Ahead, Rises The Majestic Column Of The “Big Poplar” Straight, Sound And Perfect, Towering Eighty Feet To The First Branch, Lifting Its Crown Far Aloft. In Reverence And Awe We Stood And Gazed Upon This Tree, The Largest Living Individual Of Its Kind In North America. Such Monarchs Of The Forest Are Not Grown In Decades, Nor Yet In Centuries.

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