Snakes in Virginia

In the Blue Ridge and on other mountain ridges, copperheads and rattlesnakes gather together to overwinter in dens underneath rocks. When the Skyline Drive was being built in the 1930's, the operator of a power shovel excavated more than a bucketful of rocks. An observer later described the moment:1

Much to everyone's surprise the shovel came up with a scoopful of those rocks along with many snakes from beneath the surface where they had made a den for the winter. In his excitement, the operator stopped the shovel with the scoop in midair and snakes were dangling in all directions...

One snake traveled down the shovel boom onto the operator's platform. As I recall there were about eight or ten workers in the immediate area and I believe both men and snakes were about equally frightened trying to get out of harm's way. When the excitement was over no person was harmed and most of the snakes made to safety. However, the shovel operator scrambled off the rig, walked off the job and didn't return.



1. Walter Mallonee, "The Origin of Skyline Drive," Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, (last checked November 20, 2018)

Habitats and Species
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