About Purchase Knob
Photo by Don McGowan
The Appalachian Highland Science Learning Center is based on 535 acres in Haywood County, North Carolina, contiguous with the rest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The parcel includes the 5,086 foot elevation Purchase Knob, a historic cabin, and two buildings which contain offices, laboratory space, a 50-person classroom, and housing for up to eight visiting scientists.
The buildings and land were donated in 2000 by Kathryn McNeil and Voit Gilmore, who had owned the property since 1964, and had built a summer home upon it. This represents the largest donation of land since GSMNP came into existence. Since then, the park has averaged about 5,000 visiting scientists, students and teachers each year. Everyday, the staff and program participants thank the family for their generous gift.
In 2001, Purchase Knob became the home of one of five initial Learning Centers created by Congress to support research in the National Parks and to transmit the information generated to the public. Eventually, 32 learning centers are expected nationwide. To learn more about Research Learning Centers visit the NPS website.
Did You Know?
The park’s high elevation heath balds are treeless expanses where dense thickets of shrubs such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, and sand myrtle grow. Known as “laurel slicks” and “hells” by early settlers, heath balds were most likely created by forest fires long ago. More...