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Conservation and Preservation

This, the finest mountain wilderness and virgin hardwood forest in Eastern North America, was saved and set aside for you and for those who will come after you. Who are the people whose wisdom and generosity and effort created this National Park?

Suggestions for a National Park in the southern Appalachians were made as early as 1885. Dr. Chase P. Ambler, of Asheville, N.C., organized and directed an intensive campaign from 1889 to 1905 for a 12,000-square-mile National Park in North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. The boundaries included the Great Smoky Mountains. In spite of strong public support, this project failed for lack of Congressional action.

The successful movement for a National Park in the Great Smoky Mountains was officially started by Willis P. Davis, of Knoxville, Tenn., at a meeting held on December 21, 1923. As a result of the original study and planning by Davis and others who saw the far-reaching benefits, Congress authorized the park in 1926. In 1927, the State Legislatures of North Carolina and Tennessee passed enabling acts. Through the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, the late John D. Rockefeller, Jr., matched State funds, and land acquisition began. Later, Federal funds were made available to complete the work.

Combined gifts—from the people of North Carolina and Tennessee, from private and public funds—enabled the Governors of the two States, on February 6, 1930, to present 158,876 acres of land to the Secretary of the Interior. On September 2, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt formally dedicated Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the mission of preserving and protecting the wild beauty and natural features of the area for all time.

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Last Modified: Sat, Nov 4 2006 10:00:00 pm PST

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