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Grandfather Mountain is not a community of households or neighborhoods. It is the geographic landmark that towers over all of Avery County, standing as a reason for wonder and gratitude for each of our citizens; wonder at God's glorious creation and gratitude that we are blessed to live in Grandfather's shadow.

Grandfather Mountain has been owned by the same family since 1885. It has been one of North Carolina's most popular tourist attractions since 1952 when the road was extended to the summit and the Mile High Swinging Bridge was erected.

As a geologic formation, Grandfather Mountain was thrust into the sky about 742 million years ago when two of the earth's plates slammed together. However, according to a 1962 US Geological Survey, some rock formations on Grandfather date back 1.1 billion years.

At an elevation of 5,964 feet, Grandfather is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge range. Mount Mitchell (elv. 6,684 feet), located forty miles south, is the highest peak in the Black Mountains (a spur range of the Blue Ridge) and the highest point in Eastern America. Roan Mountain (elv. 6,285 feet), located at the boundary of Avery County and Tennessee, is the highest peak in the Unaka Mountains.

The original Cherokee name for Grandfather Mountain was "Tanawha," meaning "a fabulous hawk or eagle." It was named "Grandfather" by pioneers who thought the ridgeline resembled an old man looking into the sky. Many vantage points reveal different faces, so there is no one official profile, but the most popular can be seen from the community of Foscoe, a mile and a half north of Seven Devils and ten miles south of Boone on NC 105.

Grandfather Mountain is home to at least 66 rare and endangered species and over 4,000 of its approximately 5,000 acres are permanently protected from development in a Nature Conservancy Trust. In recognition for excellence in protecting and managing one of Earth's vanishing ecosystems, the United Nations selected Grandfather Mountain to be a unit in its international network of Biosphere Reserves. Grandfather is the only privately owned property to be included among the 482 Biosphere Reserves found in 102 countries worldwide.

As a gathering place, Grandfather Mountain has played an important role in the cultural history of Avery County. Mountain families have been making the pilgrimage to the meadow at the foot of Grandfather on the fourth Sunday in June since 1924 for the "Singing on the Mountain," a day long gospel sing and preaching founded by Joe L. Hartley Sr. a his family reunion. The same meadow has been the site of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans on the second weekend in July since1956. These games are ranked among the grandest celebrations of Scottish athletics, music and culture held anywhere in the world.