Monday, March 17, 2014

Episode 205 (3-17-14): "Twin Falls," Performed by Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge, Honors a Virginia Travertine Treasure

Click to listen to episode (3:12)


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 17, 2014.

This week, we feature a group specializing in the musical heritage of the southern Appalachian Mountains, performing a selection inspired by a remarkable part of the natural heritage of those mountains.  Have a listen for about 35 seconds.


You’ve been listening to part of “Twin Falls,” by Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge on their 1998 CD, “Blue Ridge Heritage.”  Written by group member Marya Katz, this duet for hammered dulcimers was inspired by a two-channel waterfall at the Falls Ridge Nature Conservancy Preserve in Montgomery County, Virginia.  The preserve’s name comes from an approximately 80-foot-high waterfall, created by a spring-fed stream flowing down a ridge above the valley of the North Fork Roanoke River.  The waterfall and the streams’ many smaller ledges result from the deposition of travertine.  Travertine forms when water containing dissolved calcium carbonate—found in limestone bedrock—is exposed to air conditions that cause the calcium carbonate to fall out of solution, or precipitate, as a solid.  Travertine deposits occur in many Virginia counties in the Valley and Ridge Province, from the Blue Ridge westward.  But they’re also found in many other limestone areas, such as hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.  And similar water-chemistry processes form stalactites and stalagmites in caves.  Thanks to Ms. Katz and Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge for permission to use this week’s music, and let’s end with about 15 more seconds of their “Twin Falls,” accompanied by the sound of the actual falls.


For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 3/17/14]

The two high cascades over travertine deposits at Falls Ridge Preserve in Montgomery County, Va., March 8, 2014.
Travertine ledges in the stream above the falls at Falls Ridge Preserve in Montgomery County, Va., March 8, 2014.

Another view of travertine ledges in the stream above the falls at Falls Ridge Preserve in Montgomery County, Va., March 8, 2014.

Remnants of a mid-20th-Century kiln used for extracting lime from limestone at Falls Ridge Preserve in Montgomery County, Va., March 8, 2014.

“Twin Falls” on the CD “Blue Ridge Heritage is copyright Marya Katz and Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge, used with permission.  More information about Marya Katz is available from her Web sites: and  More information about Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge is available from their Web site:

Information on the cultural and music heritage of the Blue Ridge and southern Appalachians was taken from the “Cultural Heritage,” Blue Ridge Natural Heritage Web site, online at

Information on Falls Ridge Preserve was taken from The Nature Conservancy Web site on the area, online at  That site includes photos and a short video (1 min./36 sec.) of plants, animals, and the falls.

Information on travertine deposits in Virginia and carbonate water chemistry in general was taken from “Travertine-Marl Deposits of the Valley and Ridge Province of Virginia—A Preliminary Report,” by David A. Hubbard, William F. Giannini, and Michelle M. Lorah, in Virginia Minerals, February 1985 (newsletter of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy), online (as PDF) at

Information on travertine deposits in Yellowstone National Park and other parts of the world was taken from “Geology Word for the Week: T is for Travertine,” by Evelyn Mervine, on the American Geophysical Union Blogosphere, online at

Information on formation of stalactites and stalagmites—both a kind of “speleotherm”—was taken from “How Stalactites and Stalagmites Form,” National Park Service/Ozark National Scenic Riverways, online at

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