History of the Blue Ridge Parkway
some background on one of America's favorite scenic roads
The Parkway was first called the Park to Park Highway and it was supposed to be a connector of Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee. It was North Carolina Congressman Robert "Farmer Bob" Doughton who lobbied for the Blue Ridge Parkway to run the road through his state's magnificent mountains. He declared that anyone who viewed this scenery "will find that the Omnipotent Architect of the World has carved and chiseled the most outstanding display of nature known to all creation."
R. Getty Browning, North Carolina Highway Commission engineer worked together with Sydney Abbott who was appointed the first resident landscape architect of the Blue Ridge Parkway for the National Park Service to design the Blue Ridge Parkway. The crest of the mountain was believed to be the most scenic and least destructive course to take. The road that was to connect the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah with the Great Smokey Mountains 450 miles away had to be more than an ordinary road. It was to be a scenic parkway that would embrace the landscapes agricultural life.
Abbott's idea was that every so often there needed to be "a jewel on the string of beads." The planned recreation areas of Peaks of Otter, Rocky Knob, Doughton Park, Julian Price and Moses Cone, Linville Falls, Crabtree Meadows, and Mt Pisgah were each at comfortable intervals of about 60 miles along the drive. They wanted the Parkway to blend harmoniously with the natural environment winding like a ribbon through the land.