Mount Mitchell is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak in the eastern United States. It was the highest point in any state of the United States until Texas joined the union in 1845. The nearest higher point east of the Rocky Mountains is Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mount Mitchell is located near Burnsville in Yancey County, North Carolina, in the Black Mountain subrange of the Appalachians, and about 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Asheville. It is protected by Mount Mitchell State Park and surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest. The mountain was named after Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who determined its height in 1835 and fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, having returned to verify his earlier measurements.