Behind the Scenes and Signage

"It requires sensitivity to design even such a comparatively minor detail as a sign and a signpost, as you usher men and women into the presence of the natural gods, as at the foot of Old Faithful."

- Stanley W. Abbott, 1958

While it may appear to be untouched wilderness, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a purposeful portrayal representation, picture of the landscape and the communities. The signs along the Parkway direct tourists and provide information, but they also carry messages in their design and shape. The Balsam Gap sign is similar to most signs along the Parkway. It is made with natural materials, shaped with rough edges and has a handmade appearance. These signs are meant to remind parkway visitors of the lifestyle in parkway communities of the early twentieth century.

These signs are only one example of how the National Park Service works to direct the visitor's understanding of the Parkway. Since the Blue Ridge Parkway is a living thing, keeping a consistent appearance requires constant work. Behind the scenic overlooks and easy driving, there is a great deal of maintenance which goes on to keep up the road, the overlooks and the landscape. Much of the equipment required for this work is hidden away from visitors in sub-maintenance areas, which are fenced off and placed out of sight. The administrative offices, law enforcement stations and staff residences are hidden as well. The Parkway visitor rarely sees the buildings necessary to construct and preserve to keep up, maintain the scenic appearance of the Blue Ridge Parkway.