Annual Spring Naturalists Rally returns to Roan Mountain April 22-24


Photo by Bryan Stevens  Spring blooms, like this Bloodroot, are still a major focus, but a variety of other topics of natural history have expanded the offerings at this annual event.

Organizers of the 58th annual Roan Mountain Spring Naturalists Rally are pleased to announce this yearly event will continue the tradition of offering nature enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy field trips and engaging programs that cover many aspects of the natural history of Roan Mountain and the surrounding area.
The Roan Mountain State Park’s Conference Center will host programs, meals, information booths and registration, while field trips will leave from the field on the left before entrance to the cabins in the park. Registration will also be available at the field prior to the field trip departures.

Because of the continued support of the Friends of Roan Mountain, the seasonal Naturalists Rallies have the resources they need to prosper and grow. The Friends of Roan Mountain also provides support for research and restoration projects on the Roan.


Photo by Bryan Stevens                            Everything from salamanders and dragonflies to edible plants and geology provides a diversity of subjects for the many hikes and programs of the annual rally.


Consider joining the Friends of Roan Mountain, if you are not a member. There are plenty of perks for members, who receive free admission to all Naturalists Rally events and regular editions of the organization’s newsletter, “Friends of Roan Mountain.”

This year’s Spring Naturalists Rally will be held Friday-Sunday, April 22-24. Featured evening speakers for this year’s event are Liz Domingue and Mick Whitelaw. Their programs will feature the topics of butterflies and moths, as well as Roan Mountain’s historic association with the Tweetsie railroad.


Photo by Bryan Stevens                           Butterflies, such as this Carolina Satyr, and moths will provide the focus for Liz Domingue’s evening program at this year’s rally.

Domingue is a naturalist, educator, photographer, writer and guide. Her interest in and study of natural history has been her lifelong pursuit and passion. Through photography, observation, and research, she has studied wildlife, plants, and the natural world in the United States and abroad. She is a co-author of the field guide, Butterflies & Familiar Moths of the Smokies (soon to be in press) and a contributing writer for Smokies Life. In addition, she has served as a contributing writer, photographer and consultant for McGraw-Hill Science Textbooks. Her photos have been published in a variety of books and magazines. Domingue leads guided interpretive hikes and Naturalist Adventure Tours, and conducts environmental education programs for youth, adults, and fellow educators through her own business, “Just Get Outdoors.”

The history of Roan Mountain goes back almost two billion years and includes major mountain building events that created the biggest iron ore deposit known in the eastern United States. Much, much later, high grade magnetite ore was discovered on Roan Mountain after the War of 1812 and was later smelted by the Confederates in a local bloomery. In 1881 a train line designed to bring the ore from Roan Mountain to Johnson City for smelting was begun. The train served the iron mine until 1929 and local communities until 1950 and became known as the “Tweetsie”. This talk
will review the history of the Roan Mountain iron mines and the little train with a heart.


Mick Whitelaw

Dr. Mick Whitelaw received his bachelor’s of science degree in geology at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia in 1983 and a doctorate from the University of Florida in 1990. He held instructor positions at the University of Texas, El Paso and the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, before taking his current position in the Department of Geosciences at East Tennessee State University in 2003. He specializes in stratigraphy and the geology of the East Tennessee region and serves as site geologist for the Gray Fossil Site.
For more information or a brochure of the specific events, including a reservation form for all activities, including the Friday and Saturday evening meals, visit

Caterpillar-AprilTroutLily  DwarfLarkspurCabbageWhite_Close HummerMoth-2004

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