As a newcomer, I was immediately impressed by the way the French Broad River runs its merry way through town, separating West Asheville from the city proper. And I see that this is nothing recent. According to a plaque in Carrier Park, the French Broad is the third oldest river on Earth. The whole Earth! And it’s been doing what it’s doing for something in excess of 250 million years.
I couldn’t believe it, but Wikipedia confirms that the French Broad is indeed tied for third with two other Appalachian rivers (the lyrical Susquehanna and the misnamed New) on the list of the oldest rivers on the planet. Older than the Rhine, older than the Amazon. Big names like Yangtze, Indus, Thames, Nile and Colorado all made the top 15 but are mere children by comparison.
How nice that this honor should go to such an unpretentious river. I am pleased to live so close to a geologic celebrity, and to feel assured of the veracity of the claim on the plaque in the park. Shame on me for even considering that it might just be a bit of hyperbole rolled out by the chamber of commerce, figuring no one was old enough to remember what was there before the river anyway.