My first visit to the tower at Hanging Rock was in 1974. At that time, the hawk count was being done by the “three Georges and Ken.” George Flouer lived near the tower and was a member of the Brooks Bird Club. He convinced George Koch, George Hurley, and Ken Anderson, members of the Handlan Chapter of the Brooks Bird Club, to come from Charleston on weekends in September to conduct hawk counts. They were my mentors and turned me onto raptor watching.
One September afternoon, I arrived at the tower to find George Hurley lying on his back on the tower deck. He said, “Thank God you are here, Jim. Take that section of the sky and start counting.” The sky was full of Broad-wings. We had well over a thousand birds fly over.
Hanging Rock is a special place. The name comes from the way the sandstone juts at an angle toward the sky. You can perch on the rocks, throw a leg over either side of the top of the ridge, and look to the ridge and valley of the Appalachians to the east and the Appalachian Plateau to the west. I have been there when the weather was very comfortable, very hot, cold enough to freeze your coffee in the cup, in snow, rain, and fog so thick you can barely see 2 feet in front of your face. Come prepared!