Central Virginia’s Piedmont

by staff on August 27, 2011

Virginia Blue Ridge and Piedmont Areas There are some pieces of terminology in our Central Virginia area that we take for granted, but which might be completely confusing to visitors who are unfamiliar with the geology of Virginia.

For that reason, we’ve provided you with the map that we’ve taken from Wikipedia information.   Central Virginia itself spreads from the Blue Ridge Mt section to the west, all the way east through the Piedmont region.  The far-eastern portions of Virginia (Norfolk, Virginia Beach etc) are in the low flatlands of the Coastal Plains.

First…. what exactly is a “Piedmont”?   When vistors arrive in Charlottesville, it’s obvious that the term Piedmont is pertinent, because many local businesses and schools have the word “Piedmont” in their names … Piedmont Valley Community College etc.

Piedmont comes from the Italian ‘piemont’, or “foot of mountain”.  A piedmont is the area lying along or near the “foot” of a mountain range.  In the case of our Charlottesville area, the Piedmont is part of an area that runs from Georgia through the Carolinas, separating the Blue Ridge Mountains from the lower Coastal Plains.  In effect, our Piedmont is geographically an elevated plateau.  (Come to think of it, is there any other kind of plateau besides ‘elevated’?)

From Charlottesville looking westward past Crozet, there are glorious views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Only minutes from town one can begin climbing into the mountains in places like Wintergreen in Nelson County.  The westward view will also give a clear sense of the plateau itself that has become the rolling hills and fields of our other central VA counties.

Albemarle County (where Charlottesville is located) has an added ingredient to its claim on the “piedmont” description.  Just east of Charlottesville are the Southwest Mountains which run somewhat parallel to the Blue Ridge Mountains….. essentially providing a 2nd area of “piedmont” at the foot of those mountains too.

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