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Raleigh Sandstone

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Column of the Upper Raleigh Sandstone at Grandview, WV

The Raleigh Sandstone forms high cliffs along the New River Gorge and broad tablelands beyond in southern Fayette County and northern Raleigh County. This resistant sandstone has prevented the region from being as deeply eroded as the ridges to the northeast in the Allegheny Plateau. The Raleigh Sandstone has been most effective in the development of tablelands near Beckley, WV.

The Raleigh most famously outcrops along the New River Gorge as the overlooks at Babcock State Park and Grandview State Park and has been quarried extensively near Beckley, WV, and Beaver, WV. Like the more massive Nuttall Sandstone, to the north, the Raleigh supports large areas of tableland, notably in the areas of Grandview, Scott Ridge, and eastern parts of Beckley. Their edges outcrop as cliffs along the rim of the New River Gorge and tributary gorges, notably that of the Piney Creek. Some outcrops have been weathered into caves and crevasses. The Raleigh is geologically divided into two beds, or ledges, separated by beds of shale and thin coals.

Weathering in Lower Raleigh Sandstone on Piney Creek


Upper Raleigh Sandstone

The upper ledge of the Raleigh Sandstone, the Upper Raleigh Sandstone, has been described by the WV Geological Survey as "heavy- to current-bedded, medium- to coarse-grained, micaceous to quartzitic, usually conglomeratic, grayish-white to grayish-brown." The upper ledge forms cliffs high on the valley walls of the central New River Gorge, including those at Grandview State Park, including Turkey Spur Rock.


Lower Raleigh Sandstone

The lower ledge of the Raleigh Sandstone, the Lower Raleigh Sandstone, has been described by the WV Geological Survey as resembling the upper in "texture and physical appearance." The bed is an important cliff-former, particularly in the southern gorge and along the walls of the gorges of the Piney Creek and Glade Creek. Among its most accessible outcrops are its cliffs on the upper rim of the Manns Creek Gorge in Babcock State Park. The Beckley Coal or Beckley Rider Coal generally underlies the lower seam.

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