Monday, November 09, 2009

The Parkway at 75: Asheville almost didn't get route

The Citizen-Times is doing a series on the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This first article looks at how Asheville -- the unofficial capital of Western N.C. -- almost didn't get a route to the scenic drive.

"It is hard to imagine Asheville without the Blue Ridge Parkway.

"For most visitors and locals, it seems as though the 469-mile road has always wound through the mountains of Western North Carolina, providing stunning views and access to miles of hiking. ...

"It was a very real possibility that the Blue Ridge Parkway could have bypassed much of Western North Carolina, dipping into the state and passing through Blowing Rock and Linville before heading into Tennessee and terminating at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"It was the hard lobbying of Asheville's tourism boosters, including the chamber of commerce and the newspaper, the Asheville Citizen, state highway officials and well-connected politicians that persuaded federal officials to choose the high-mountain route through Asheville and points west before ending in the Smokies. ...

"As the Blue Ridge Parkway prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2010, it is important to remember that the parkway was not always a done deal, said Dan Brown, former superintendent of the parkway and president of Blue Ridge Parkway 75 Inc., the organization heading up anniversary activities. ..."

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