Mountainous Claims

On September 13, 2011 · 8 Comments

I noticed a recent record in the website logs that geolocated to Mountain View, California. That’s hardly a unique occurrence. I’ve had plenty of readers from Mountain View in the past. The only difference is that I happened to wonder whether Mountain View actually had a mountain view this time. I don’t know why. That also led me to ponder if Mountain Home, Idaho is really a mountain home. And what about Rocky Top, Tennessee?

Mountain View, California

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A quick look in Google Maps’ terrain setting confirms that mountains slope decidedly downward near the outskirts of Mountain View. These are the Santa Cruz Mountains clinging to the San Francisco peninsula on their way southward towards Salinas. They separate the Santa Clara Valley and the City of Mountain View from the Pacific Ocean. Loma Prieta Peak, the highpoint, reaches 3,786 feet (1,154 metres). That’s fairly impressive so close to the seacoast.

Btu does the city have a mountain view? I decided to check this claim within the downtown area next to City Hall. I opened an image at the intersection of Mercy Street and Castro Street. Indeed, mountains appear in the background. They aren’t a dominant scenic feature of the background but they certainly exist and they are clearly visible. Mountain View seems to be an accurate claim, assuming one means a view of mountains rather than a view from mountains.

Mountain Home, Idaho

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In contrast, Mountain Home seems to require a wider stretch of the imagination than Mountain View. The terrain maps shows a city on a relatively flat plain. Certainly, there are mountains within the vicinity however the name of the town is Mountain Home not Mountains Nearby. It seems like a name made up by land speculators and real estate developers to attract those unfamiliar with the underlying geography.

If it’s going to be called Mountain Home, well, it should have homes on a mountain. I find the claim to be somewhat spurious.

Rocky Top, Tennessee

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Give yourself a pat on the back if you knew instinctively that this one was a ringer. Tennessee doesn’t have a single town named Rocky Top according to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. It’s fictional. There are three peaks in Tennessee called Rocky Top, however.

For the uninitiated, Rocky Top is a song probably as closely associated with Tennessee as Country Roads is associated with West Virginia. It was written as a Bluegrass tune when composed by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967, but it’s often covered by Country musicians and of course the University of Tennessee marching band.

Rocky Top includes many of the usual Appalachian stereotypes prominently within its lyrics including moonshine, simpler times, and the inherent superiority of rural life. It also includes an infectious chorus.

Rocky Top you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ole Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee.

Now, that should stick in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.

If there was a "real" Rocky Top it would probably be the one that’s part of Thunderhead Mountain along the Tennessee/North Carolina border, within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Bryants composed Rocky Top while living in nearby Gatlinburg

View of Thunderhead from Rocky Top
SOURCE: Flickr under Creative Commons; Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Rocky Top is certainly rocky, as demonstrated in this Flickr photo I’ve borrowed through a Creative Commons license. However, nobody lives there so it’s hard to figure it could be "home sweet home" in a literal sense.

From the Mailbag

A tip of the circle to longtime reader Greg for making me aware of a cartoon featuring borders in a recent edition of Dinosaur Comics. Thanks Greg! This certainly meets the 12MC definition of humor.


On September 13, 2011 · 8 Comments

8 Responses to “Mountainous Claims”

  1. Randy Clark says:

    Based on Jim Hargan’s book, “The Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains” Rocky Top is probably this one:,P3_TITLE:1639645%2CRocky%20Top

  2. Phil Sites says:

    I talked to someone from North Carolina while attending the Tennessee Vols-Montana game two weeks ago about the location of Rocky Top.

    He brought up the existence of towns like Rocky Mount and Rocky Point in North Carolina and argued some relation to the existence of Rocky Top (seeing as there are business that use the name Rocky Top in at least the town of Rocky Mount as well and given it was a somewhat common descriptor of places in this region).

    I figure this is a bit far fetched, but it would be interesting if one found some sort of reasonable link between those NC town names and Rocky Top, Tennessee. It doesn’t look like the Bryant’s ever had any close connections there though, as they lived in Georgia, Wisconsin and, of course, Tennessee from a quick wiki check…

  3. KCJeff says:

    Thanks for the link to Dinosaur comics. Loved it. I’d be willing to imagine that all of Kansas City was in Kansas for two for one tacos!

  4. Pfly says:

    There’s a Mountain Home, Arkansas. It is in the Ozarks, so that works for me. Not so sure about Mountain Home, Texas. A quick look at a map though, shows it’s near a Farm to Market Road!

  5. Gary says:

    My parents live in Wears Valley, about a mile from the border of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Nothing is better than being at their house surrounded by mountains. We usually go into Gatlinburg to see the sights, and my mother used to work at Dollywood.

    Kinda funny how I can drive to Disney World here in Florida in about 45 minutes, and my mother worked at Dollywood. My parents neighbors and best friends do still work full-time at Dollywood, and get all of us in for free when we go to Tennessee. FYI it is about a 650 mile drive from my house in Sanford FL to my parents house in Wears Valley TN.

    We are all from Rhode Island originally. Big culture shock for all of us when all of us moved south.

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