Gaudineer Scenic Area
Some years before the Civil War a speculating land company bought a tract of 69,000 acres on the slope of Shavers Mountain. Their tract fronted for about seven miles along the eastern side of the mountain. To survey and mark their holdings the company hired a crew of men who must have found rough going in this wilderness. The crew did a good job, but its chief forgot one thing – the fact that a compass needle points to magnetic, not true north. In this area the angle of declination is about four degrees, a significant source of error on a seven-mile front. An experienced Virginia surveyor, in checking the data, discovered the error but said nothing about it. Presently, however, when the sale was being concluded and the deeds recorded, he brought the error to light, and under a sort of “doctrine of vacancy” claimed the wedge of land left by a corrected survey. His title was established, and he and his heirs found themselves owner of a seven-mile strip of forest, aggregating almost 900 acres. The tract was eventually purchased by the Forest Service at the insistence of former MNF Supervisor Arthur A. Wood, who believed that future generations should know what an Appalachian spruce stand was like. In October 1964 the Regional Forester designated this area as a Scenic Area and the Forest Service began to manage it as such. In December 1974 the GSA was designated a Registered Natural Landmark for its exceptional value. In May 1983 it was registered by the Society of American Foresters as an outstanding example of a vegetative community in a near natural condition dedicated for scientific and educational purposes.