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December 19, 2012 / Joanne Yeck

Willis Mountain

Willis Mountain_C Bentley

Willis Mountain (2008) Photo by Callan Bentley

In Thomas Baldwin’s Gazetteer of the United States (1854), Buckingham’s topography was described like this: “The surface varies from level to hilly: Willis mountain, in the S. E. part, is the principal elevation.”

Many things change slowly in Buckingham, including Willis mountain which, while giving up its precious Kyanite, has also given up it elevation.  Two hundred years ago, Willis Mountain was visible from Thomas Jefferson’s mountain-top home at Monticello. Intrigued, he wrote of its shapeshifting, almost magical qualities in his Notes on the State of Virginia:

“There is a solitary mountain about forty miles off in the South, whose natural shape, as presented to view there, is a regular cone; but by the effect of looming, it sometimes subsides almost totally into the horizon; sometimes it rises more acute and more elevated; sometimes it is hemispherical; and sometimes its sides are perpendicular, its top flat, and as broad as its base. In short it assumes at times the most whimsical shapes, and all these perhaps successively in the same morning.”

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