Monday, September 24, 2012

Along the Blue Ridge

Photo from Blue Ridge Parkway 75 site
We live not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs from Georgia up into Virginia.   Built during the 1930's in the midst of the Great Depression much of the work on the Parkway was carried out by the Works Progress Administration.  The purpose of the WPA was to put as many men to work as possible so hand labor was used extensively, even when power equipment might have been more efficient.  Another New Deal program utilized by the Parkway was the Emergency Relief Administration.  ERA crews carried out landscape work and development at Parkway recreational areas.  The best-known public work program was the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Four CCC camps were established on the parkway and their crews of young men toiled at roadside cleanup, planting, grading slopes and improving fields and forests.  You can still see small plaques here and there that show these were the work of the CCC or WPA.  Whenever we drive along the Parkway I imagine hundreds of men working in those mountains, dynamiting tunnels and shoring them up with timbers and rocks.  Many of them were away from their families working in heat and humidity part of the year and cold, damp air the other part of the year. 

Photo by Mary Mercurio

Around November 1st the parkway closes to traffic -- it is often snowy up there, roads get icy and there isn't money or need to keep the roadway clean and safe.  We always try to get up there at this time of the year while the road is still open and the foliage is just starting to turn its lovely rusty colors.

Photo by me

Along the way we pass Looking Glass Falls.  A beautiful waterfall just off the road that winds up to the parkway.  It's always worth a stop and a walk down to see the water going over the rocks. 

Photo by Mary Mercurio

I'm ever so thankful to those who worked so hard to make this area accessible.  I thank a government who gave the opportunity of work to these men and in the process kept this area as a sanctuary of the US Park Service for eternity.

 "Every noble work is at first impossible." - Thomas Carlyle


  1. It does look lovely, I must agree. I don't like cold and damp, but the colours of the leaves as they turn are a definite compensation!

  2. I've been on that parkway one time, and the scenery was incredible. Thanks for the history, Penny, it is even more special ro me now that I know about how it came to be.

  3. Stunning views - what a joy it must be to have such beauty so close.

  4. Thank the Government? Bravo for you. You seldom hear that now.

    I think I was on that road when I was about 14 and traveled that way. We traveled to Knoxville then on to South Carolina. It was my first experience of seeing mountains and has always left an impression on me. You just don't find areas like that in the rolling cornfields of Indiana.
    xx, Carol

  5. Beautiful post. You live in a beautiful part of the country!



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