Monday, July 27—Blue Ridge Parkway

We have always enjoyed visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, having first seen it in the late 1970s on a cross-country ski trip, even spending some time skiing on it. Subsequently, I have driven it several times and with Kay a couple of times. Begun during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the project was originally called the Appalachian Scenic Highway. 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. Some work was carried out by various New Deal public works agencies including the Works Progress Administration, Emergency Relief Administration, and Civilian Conservation Corps. Interestingly during WWII, conscientious objectors from the Civilian Public Service program worked on the Parkway. The Parkway links Great Smoky Mountain NP to Shenandoah NP, and runs mostly along the spine of the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. It continues through Shenandoah NP as Skyline Drive, a similar scenic road. The Blue Ridge Parkway has been the most visited unit of the National Park System every year since 1946 except four (1949, 2013, 2016 and 2019). Construction of the parkway was complete by the end of 1966 with one notable exception. The 7.7-mile stretch including the Linn Cove Viaduct around Grandfather Mountain did not open until 1987. The project took over 52 years to complete. The following photos were taken from near MP 451 of the Parkway.

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