The 479 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway celebrates its 75th birthday this year. It connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Its Mission is to preserve the natural scenery and resources along its rural Southern Appalachian way as well as provide recreational opportunities for the public. Built with public road workers and public contractors during the Roosevelt New Deal when people were out of work during the Great Depression. It was the first parkway to recognize the new American pastime of leisure road trips. Probably looked a bit like this car club we saw as we drove down from the ridge’s crest.
The parkway not only provided leisure for travelers, and helped preserve a rural way of life along with rare endangered animals, plants, frogs, fish, flowers and birds, scenic easements restricted development while allowing the continuation of traditional agriculture. We now recognize something so unique and valuable to all of us.
Old wooden split rail fencing still stands along the parkway as it offers natural beauty and long views into the rolling hills.
Wayside stops, turnouts, bridges of stone, and campgrounds were built originally by the CCC. Now maintained by the National Park Service.
The stops have information, gift shops, wild flower walks, hikes and the quiet we learn to expect from nature.
The best part is the estimated financial impact on the counties and states the parkway passes through, estimated at 2.3 billion dollars yearly. A notable achievement.