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Dolly Sods Wilderness

The Dolly Sods Wilderness, or simply Dolly Sods, is a U.S. Wilderness Area in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, USA. It is part of the Monongahela National Forest.

The extensive high areas in Dolly Sods and Flatrock-Roaring Plains were once mostly covered by dense, ancient Red Spruce and hemlock forest. The trees were 60 to 90 feet (27 m) tall (18-27 m) and some measured at least 12 feet (370 cm) in diameter. In terms of size and quality, experts believe that the greatest stand of red spruce trees in the world was found here along the upper Red Creek.

Railroad logging made the spruce and hemlocks accessible in the late 1880s and the huge trees were cut down. Shay locomotives climbed the mountain and logging camps sprang up throughout Dolly Sods, clearing away the virgin forest to provide lumber to sustain America's pre-war construction boom. Centuries of accumulated needles from the massive trees had created a blanket of humus (soil) seven to nine feet deep. The humus dried up when the protective tree cover was removed. Sparks from railroad locomotives, saw mills and logger's warming fires easily ignited this humus layer and the extensive slash (wood too small to be marketable, such as branches and tree crowns) left behind by loggers. Fires repeatedly ravaged the area in the 1910s, scorching everything right down to the underlying rocks. The destruction was extraordinary. The complete clearcut of this ecologically fragile area, followed by extensive wildfires and overgrazing, as well as the ecological stresses of the elevation, have prevented quick regeneration of the forest.

The largest recorded tree ever cut in West Virginia was a white oak, harvested in this region. Nearly as large as a Giant Sequoia, it was probably well over 1,000 years old and measured 13 feet (4 m) in diameter at a height of 16 feet (5 m), and 10 feet (3 m) in diameter 31 feet above the base. We will probably never know how large the biggest trees in West Virginia were because the cuttings were not documented.

The name Dolly Sods derives from the family name Dahle, a German family who homestead the logged areas, clearing and farming them. Burning the logged areas produced good grass cover for grazing sheep, and these open fields were known as "sods." Locals changed the spelling to "Dolly" and thus the area became known as the Dolly Sods. Repeated burning killed the grass and left only bracken fern, which was useless as cattle fodder. The Dahle family eventually moved on, leaving behind only the Americanized version of their name. The "Sods" became the boggy areas we see today due to abundant precipitation, including an average of 100 inches of snow each winter.

With altitude ranging from 4,000 feet to 4,770 feet, Dolly Sods is on a ridge crest that forms part of America's Eastern Continental Divide and is the highest plateau of its type east of the Mississippi River.


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All Images J.Board
t1%2f34%2f375734%2f4%2f104324234.D55a1tzj.jpg Cold Sunrise
Cold Sunrise
Cold Sunrise (HDR)
Cold Sunrise (HDR)
t1%2f34%2f375734%2f4%2f104313021.hQktOqZ8.jpg
Bog Vegetation
Bog Vegetation
Autumn View
Autumn View
Autumn View (HDR)
Autumn View (HDR)
Autumn's Palette
Autumn's Palette
Weathered Limestone #1
Weathered Limestone #1
Delicate Bog Vegetation (detail)
Delicate Bog Vegetation (detail)
Windblown Red Spruce and Huckleberry Bushes
Windblown Red Spruce and Huckleberry Bushes
Weathered Limestone #2
Weathered Limestone #2
Red Heath & Gray Limestone
Red Heath & Gray Limestone
Sunrise Over Mountains
Sunrise Over Mountains
Weathered Limestone #3
Weathered Limestone #3
Sunrise
Sunrise
Lone Red Spruce at Dusk
Lone Red Spruce at Dusk
Lone Red Spruce at Dusk (HDR)
Lone Red Spruce at Dusk (HDR)
Dawn
Dawn
Sunrise Over Autumn Mountainside
Sunrise Over Autumn Mountainside
Sunrise Breaking over Autumn Colors
Sunrise Breaking over Autumn Colors