This Day in NC History: Blue Ridge Parkway project approved

On November 16, 1933, the Blue Ridge Parkway project received approval. The Blue Ridge Parkway, part of the National Park Service system, extends 469 miles through the Southern Appalachians, linking the Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee.

In 1934, Department of Interior Secretary Harold Ickes chose the final route through western North Carolina, rejecting one that would have gone through eastern Tennessee. His decision came after intensive lobbying from both states.

In September 1935, work began on a section extending southward from the North Carolina-Virginia line. Workers were secured from the unemployment rolls of Alleghany County as provided for in the Parkway legislation’s relief provisions.

The final section of the highway, including the Linn Cove Viaduct, was completed around Grandfather Mountain in 1987.

Designed for leisurely travel, the road is free of commercial development. From the outset attention has been given to preserving the natural beauty of the area and providing the traveler with uncluttered vistas. Each year, more than 22 million people travel the parkway. It has become an economic driver for western North Carolina.

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