The Story: Blasting and Grading

Today the Blue Ridge Parkway is a gentle road weaving through the countryside. You never need to drive more than 45 miles per hour and there are no sharp curves or unexpected turns. This was all designed to make the ride as peaceful and scenic as possible, but it meant changing the landscape a great deal. In order to develop a road through the mountains, construction workers had to move and manipulate tons of earth. For example, section 2Y of the Parkway is only 6 miles long (Milepost 455.5-461.5) but it took 105 men and almost two years to complete the construction and engineering work necessary to make it ready for driving. Heavy equipment like wagon drills, Koerhing trucks, and air compressors were needed to shift earth and tunnel through solid rock. This was "some of the heaviest equipment to have been used on the Parkway", according to the Mountaineer. Tunnels were a significant challenge in the Parkway planners' work to control the landscape, as can be seen in the photos of tunnel construction in section 2M. There are twenty-six tunnels on the Parkway, twenty-five of which are in North Carolina.

"...something like 750,000 yards of dirt and rock have been moved, and 3 tunnels built- their total length being 960 feet. About twenty percent of the total yardage moved was rock."

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