Just Where is "Buford's Gap" ?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Feb 26 13:48:13 EST 2016

Wasn't Montvale called Buford (maybe after Buford's Tavern or Buford's Mill)
in the early 1800's?
Toney Minter

NW Mailing List wrote:
> I first stumbled across the term "Buford's Gap" as a teeneager, burrowing
> through all the history books in the Virginia Room of the Roanoke Library,
> nearly sixty years ago. The books said the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad
> crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains at Buford's Gap, but I could find no
> further information on "Buford's Gap." With each successive stumbling over
> that name, the desire to figure it out has become more intense.
> Recently, Mr. Charlie Long sent me some coordinates for old iron ore pits
> at Villamont, and the satellite imagery contained an identification mark
> for the mysterious Buford's Gap at Lat 37.3936, Lon -79.7814, elevation
> 1242 feet. My long-smouldering curiosity was relit, and I headed for Google
> Earth. (Don't worry, you will get a nice image showing all the following
> information...)
> One of the nice features of Google Earth's rendition of the satellite
> imagery is a tool which enables the viewer to exaggerate the vertical scale
> by 300%, which really makes the geography stand out. When I activated that
> tool, Buford's Gap literally jumped off the screen at me. Here's what I
> found.
> 1. Very interestingly, the geospatial imaging programs place the Buford's
> Gap marker right on the N&W main line, not on the roadway or hillside.
> 2. Blue Ridge Station sits about 8345 feet west of the coordinates listed
> for Buford's Gap, at an elevation of 1269 feet, or about 47 feet higher
> than the elevation given for Buford's Gap.
> 3. The highest point in the track is about 3100 feet east of Blue Ridge
> depot and about 5245 feet west of Buford's Gap marker, and about 42 feet
> higher in elevation than Blue Ridge depot, and about 69 feet higher than
> the elevation given for Buford's Gap.
> 4. The elevations for the track are as follows:
> Buford's Gap designated location - track elev 1242 ft, coordinates 37.3936
> -79.7951
> Highest location in track - track elev 1311 ft, 5245 ft west of Buford's
> Gap designated location, coordinates 37.3847 -79.7951
> Blue Ridge depot - track elev 1269 ft, 83456 ft west of Buford's Gap
> designated location, coordinates 37.3778 -79.8012
> 5. And now comes the really dramatic part... With Google Earth's vertical
> scale exaggerator ramped up to 300%, three towering peaks are obvious at
> Buford's Gap, two on the north side of the track, and one on the south
> side. (The attached image shows all this.) The two north peaks are 1690
> feet and 2141 feet in elevation, and the south peak is 2340 feet in
> elevation, or about 1098 feet higher than track level. The two peaks
> nearest the track are separated by about 4100 feet. NOW the meaning of
> Buford's "GAP" became obvious. Thanks to Google Earth, a question of almost
> 60 years' standing has been answered.
> In the attached image, I have marked the N&W alignment with a blue line,
> and have placed a red double-ended arrow between the two peaks which form
> Buford's "Gap" and through which the railroad passes. The location and
> elevations of Buford's Gap, Blue Ridge depot, and the highest point in the
> track are also marked on the image.
> CAVEAT: The elevation tool in Google Earth is not perfect, and GPS
> coordinates sometimes differ by as much as 75 feet from program to program,
> due to a number of complex factors.
> HOMEWORK: To the Sage-of-All-Sages, Mr. Aytsch Bundy: This is in your own
> backyard. So go find out who Buford was, where he lived and when, and who
> first associated his name with this unique geographical feature. For extra
> credit, find out if he has posterity still living in your 'hood, and go
> conduct an oral history interview.
> Attachment.
> -- abram burnett
> no-stone-left-unturned guy
> ===========================
> Sent to You from my Telegraph Key
> ... better than AT&T 4G LTE
> ===========================
> Moderator:
> http://nwhs.org/mailinglist/2016/20160226.NW_Bufords_Gap_Google_Earth_work_up_2-26-2016.jpg
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