Saturday, October 31, 2015

Episode 288 (11-2-15): Exploring Virginia’s Mountain Gaps, Starting with "Fridley's Gap" by The Steel Wheels

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:29)
Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 10-29-15.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 2, 2015.

MUSIC – ~9 sec

This week, we feature a Harrisonburg, Va.-based band’s tune named for a kind of landscape feature that helps define Virginia’s high-elevation areas.  Have a listen for about 30 sec.

MUSIC  - ~30 sec

You’ve been listening to part of “Fridley’s Gap,” by The Steel Wheels, from a live recording of a performance in Colorado in November 2013.  Fridley’s, or Fridley, Gap is a notch in Fourth Mountain, one of a several ridges forming Massanutten Mountain in Rockingham County, Virginia.  Fridley Gap is the channel for headwaters of Mountain Run, one of many small streams that drain water from the west side of the Massanutten down to the North Fork Shenandoah River, while streams on the other side of the Massanutten carry water to the South Fork Shenandoah River.  Virginia has dozens of mountain gaps formed over millions of years by geologic forces and water erosion.  They range from the relatively small—like Fridley—to the very large—like Cumberland Gap and the James River Gorge.  Some gaps get their names from an area’s human history—like Fridley, Brock’s, and Buford’s gaps—while other gaps were named for local land, water, or biological features, such as Flat Ridge Gap, Dry Run Gap, or Bearwallow Gap.

Providing openings for water, wildlife, and humans, gaps and their varied names help us explore, describe, and understand Virginia’s mountainous regions.

Thanks to The Steel Wheels for permission to use this week’s music, and let close with a few more seconds of Fridley’s Gap.

MUSIC - ~ 10 sec

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Fridley’s Gap,” by The Steel Wheels, was from the band’s show at 4th & Main Grille in Wray, Colorado, recorded Nov. 9, 2013; copyright by The Steel Wheels, used with permission.  More information on The Steel Wheels is available online at


Used for Audio

Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Historical Society/Heritage Museum, “Rockingham County Virginia Tombstones by Cemetery/Arrey-Fridley Family Cemetery,” online at

Hiking Upward, “Fridley Gap-Shenandoah, Virginia,” online at

James Madison University Special Collections, “Oral history interview [sound recording] / Mutt Fox ; interviewed by John Coleman and Melvin Armentrout,” accessed online at

TopoQuest, “Elkin West, Virginia, Topographic Map, online at


Virginia Foundation for the Humanities/African American Historic Sites Database, “Zenda Community,” online at

Virginia Trail Guide, “Fridley Gap Loop, 4/28/13,” online at

Wikipedia, “List of Gaps in Virginia,” online at

For More Information about Virginia Watersheds and Rivers

“Rivers and Watersheds: The Geology of Virginia,” College of William and Mary, online at  This site has maps of the major river basins in Virginia and provides detailed information on the geology of Virginia’s physiographic provinces and of the James and the Potomac-Shenandoah river basins.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “USGS Water Science School,” online at
“Virginia’s Major Watersheds,” Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, online at

“Water Resources of Virginia,” U.S. Geological Survey, online at  This is the home page for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Virginia Water Science Center. 


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (   For episodes on water-related geographic features in Virginia, please see the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” category.

The following episodes also have geographic connections (including, in some cases, the role of water-related geographic features in Virginia’s history).

Walk across Virginia | EP110 – 5/14/12

Cumberland Gap | EP126 – 9/3/12

Exploration of the Chesapeake Bay | EP140 – 12/10/12

Water and settlement of Roanoke | EP181 – 9/30/13

Water and the Revolutionary War | EP103 – 3/19/12; EP168 – 7/1/13

Water origins of Virginia Declaration signers | EP220 – 6/30/14

Geography | EP265 - 5/11/15

Forks in Waterways | EP284 – 10/2/15


This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme

4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme

6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Earth Science Course

ES.8 - influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Virginia Studies Course

VS.2 – physical geography of Virginia past and present.

United States History to 1865 Course

USI.2 – water features important to the early history of the United States.

World Geography Course

WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface.

WG.3 - how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

WG.6 - past and present trends in human migration and cultural interaction as influenced by social, economic, political, and environmental factors.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at