The dedication of the last section of the Blue Ridge
Parkway, including the spectacular Linn Cove Viaduct at Grandfather
Mountain, in September 1987, marked the completion of one of America’s
most popular scenic roads.
Running 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park
in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park on the North Carolina-Tennessee border, the Parkway
was a notable public works project of the Great Depression and
the fulfillment of a dream first promoted by Joseph Hyde Pratt,
State Geologist of North Carolina.
Pratt advocated construction of a “Crest of the Blue Ridge
Highway” and between 1909 and 1912 surveyed the North Carolina
portion of a road that would run from Marion, Virginia, to Tallulah
Falls, Georgia. The photograph on this page shows a car on the
"Crest of the Blue Ridge Highway" in 1911. Pratt was
ahead of his time in recognizing the potential economic impact
of automobile tourism and foresaw the scenic appeal of the mountains
of western North Carolina for vacationing Americans. The one short
portion of the “Crest of the Blue Ridge Highway” which
was actually constructed was later incorporated into the Blue
Ridge Parkway, and Pratt’s surveys are remarkably close
to the final location of the great mountain road.
Suggestions for Further Reading:
Jolley, Harley E. The Blue Ridge Parkway. Knoxville,
University of Tennessee Press, 1969.
Buxton, Barry M. and Stephen M. Beatty, eds. Blue Ridge
Parkway: agent of transition: proceedings of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Golden Anniversary Conference. Boone, NC.: Appalachian Consortium
"On the Crest of the Blue Ridge Highway, the Grove Road,
Up the Mountain, East of Asheville, N.C." In Southern
Good Roads, January 1912, p. 8.