The Taconic Range & the Taconic Plateau
Geologists call a mountain-building episode that occurred 400 million years ago the "Taconic Orogeny." In this major geological event, which built much of the Appalachians, volcanic sediment was shoved westward. At its peak, the Taconic plateau was a mountain that soared over 20,000 feet, but after 400 million years of erosion what remains today's Taconic Plateau is only one-tenth†the size of its original height is the base. No doubt this massive erosion and wearing down created the abundant rock and stone deposits that abound on the plateau slopes and valley.
The 36,000-acre Taconic Plateau is the highest of all Northwest Highlands plateaus, and is recognized as one of the largest and healthiest remaining forests in southern New England. The Taconic Plateau starts in the very northwest corner of the state where Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York come together and runs north to South Egremont, MA.
The southern portion of the plateau encompassing Salisbury, also known as the Mt. Riga Plateau, has several isolated peaks that include the highest elevation in Connecticut at 2,380 feet above sea level. This CT point is on the south slope of Mount Frissel, which reaches its summit of 2,453 feet just across the border in Massachusetts. The highest peak that lies entirely within Connecticut is Bear Mountain at 2,355 ft., Gridley Mountain at 2,200 ft., Mt. Riga at 2,000 ft. and Lionís Head at 1,760 ft. This area was also known as the Mt. Riga District # 13 and played a prominent role in the Salisbury steel industry.
The Mt. Riga Plateau, once home to a significant post-Revolutionary War-era blast furnace, was sold to three families who in 1923 formed the Mt. Riga Corporation. The corporation sold 125 acres to the Appalachian Mountain Club and 1,300 acres to the National Park Service for the Appalachian Trail, but still retains more than 4,000 acres and two lakes identified as Forge Pond and North Pond on the Beers Atlas map.
Today the Taconic Plateau is recognized as one of the largest and healthiest remaining forests in southern New England with globally significant "sweet water" wetlands and more than 150 rare and endangered species