Photo Source: Burns, A. S. Typical country road through North Carolina section of parkway. This is a usual road in good weather. National Park Service—Blue Ridge Parkway [c.1936]. Documenting the American South. 2002. University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 1 May 2016. http://docsouth.unc.edu/blueridgeparkway/content/5535/.
The Blue Ridge Parkway was developed during the 1930s Great Depression, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted programs under the New Deal to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a military-style public works program whose workers were charged with making improvements and building infrastructure in national parks over a nine-year period.
World War II stopped work on the Parkway in 1943. By then, about 330 miles of the byway was under construction. About 170 miles was paved and open to public travel. About $1 billion in funds for the Parkway came from MISSION 66, an enhancement program for national parks. The Parkway, except for 7.5-miles at Grandfather Mountain, was complete when the program concluded in 1966.
Photo Source: Rowe, Abbie. Fox Hunters Paradise. National Park Service—Blue Ridge Parkway [c.1946]. Documenting the American South. 2002. University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 1 May 2016. http://docsouth.unc.edu/blueridgeparkway/content/8442/.
Nicknamed “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway boasts 469 scenic miles that wind along the Blue Ridge Mountains through 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina. The Parkway has long been the country’s most visited national park, garnering more than 15 million visitors each year.
Construction of the Parkway began in 1935 to connect the new Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. The byway was officially completed in 1987 after final construction around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. The Parkway and it’s 88,000 acres of protected land extend north to Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive near Waynesboro, Virginia, and south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located equally in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Photo Source: Rowe, Abbie. Scenic Views, Parkway N.C. National Park Service—Blue Ridge Parkway [c.1946]. Documenting the American South. 2002. University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 1 May 2016. http://docsouth.unc.edu/blueridgeparkway/content/6081/.
Many individuals and agencies in federal, state and local government joined together for the development of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of the land used for the national park was obtained by Virginia and North Carolina and deeded to the federal government. The U.S. Forest Service gave the remaining acres. The project also included the work of dozens of engineers and designers at all levels.
The strategically planned route showcased the natural beauty along the Blue Ridge Mountains, the culturally rich surrounding areas and also led to the restoration of historic structures like Mabry Mill – the most photographed attraction along the Parkway. Mabry Mill features structures reminiscent of 20th century Appalachian communities, including a mill, blacksmith shop, sorghum cooker, moonshine still and other outdoor exhibits.