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This Month in North Carolina History

September 1987 - The Blue Ridge Parkway

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 Car 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.

Harry McKown
September 2004


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 Press, 1986.

Image Source:

"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.