Paving paradise

Posted by | February 27, 2012

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the longest (469 miles), narrowest national park in the world and is the most visited unit in the US National Park system. The parkway runs from the southern terminus of Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive in Virginia at Rockfish Gap to U.S. 441 at Oconaluftee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, North Carolina.

Begun during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, the project was originally called the “Appalachian Scenic Highway.” Most construction was carried out by private contractors under federal contracts under an authorization by Harold L. Ickes in his role as federal public works administrator. Work began on September 11, 1935 near Cumberland Knob in North Carolina; construction in Virginia began the following February.

On June 30, 1936, Congress formally authorized the project as the “Blue Ridge Parkway” and placed it under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The project would take over 52 years to complete. Some work was carried out by various New Deal public works agencies. The Works Progress Administration did some roadway construction. Crews from the Emergency Relief Administration carried out landscape work and development of parkway recreation areas. Personnel from four Civilian Conservation Corps camps worked on roadside cleanup, roadside plantings, grading slopes and improving adjacent fields and forest lands.

“The charm and delight of the Blue Ridge Parkway lies in its ever-changing location, in variety. And of course there is the picture it reveals of the Southern Highlands, with miles of split-rail fence, with Brinegar cabins and the Mabry Mills. These are evidences of a simple homestead culture and a people whose way of life grew out of the land. around them. Provincial life, gee! The mountaineer buildings we acquired to preserve within the holdings of the Parkway itself have resisted the whitewash brush, the Sears Roebuck catalog, and the tar paper of Johns Manville. They are as interesting a part of the Blue Ridge as the natural scene around them.”

Stanley Abbott, Resident Landscape Architect and Acting
Superintendent for the Parkway 1933-1944


appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+culture history+of+appalachia appalachian+mountains+history

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