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Showing posts from August, 2009

Lessons learned and questions raised about mountain gaps

"Gaps" are to mountainous terrain what fords are in the piedmont. They are the critical "chokepoints" through which traffic must pass. Like fords, some gaps are better than others; easier to get to, easier to get through, safer. So, calculating the earmarks of critical gaps is important. Any suggestions to that end will be appreciated.

Working on a presentation about Daniel Boone's routes to the Cumberland Gap gave me the opportunity to consider gaps, and I mapped over one hundred and fifty of them along his likely routes. Here are the observations made, thus far:

1. Many, perhaps most mountain gaps are unnamed as such on USGS topographical maps.

2. Gaps come in two varieties; "saddle gaps" and "water gaps". Of these two, water gaps (if they can be safely navigated by water or by foot, horse, or other conveyance) are preferred as they require less climbing than do saddle gaps. A water gap that occurs off the line of march between two i…