Saddle Mountain Wind Gap

May 03, 2010

Saddle mountain wind gap

Photographer: James Van Gundy
Summary Author: James Van Gundy

Saddle Mountain is the local name for Dolls Gap in New Creek Mountain, located in Mineral County, West Virginia. This feature is a classic example of a so-called wind gap because it has no stream flowing through it as do the more common water gaps of the Appalachian Mountains. The view is from U.S. Route 50 at the crest of the Allegheny Front, looking eastward across the ridges of the Appalachian Valley and Ridge province.

Despite their name, wind gaps aren’t created by wind action but rather are carved by the streams that once flowed through them when valley elevations on either side stood higher than they do today. An ancestral stream formerly flowed from the right foreground of New Creek Mountain and then turned abruptly eastward (away from the camera) through Dolls Gap, crossing the Wills Mountain anticline and the very resistant Silurian-aged Tuscarora sandstone as it did so. As erosional development of the landscape preceded, a stream to the north, flowing on more readily erodible limestones and shales, rapidly eroded its valley headward (southward). It eventually captured the flow of the Dolls Gap stream, leaving the gap itself high and dry. This is an example of what has been called stream piracy; many examples of which occur in the Appalachian Mountains. As a historical aside, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of President Abraham Lincoln, was born just about one mile (1.6 km) to the southeast of Dolls Gap. Photograph taken on April 20, 2010.