Blue Ridge Parkway
Virginia and North Carolina
By the mid-1950s, only about one-half of the Blue Ridge Parkway had been completed. Much of the remaining work involved difficult construction in more rugged terrain than earlier sections. Meager postwar appropriations limited the extension of the road. The impetus for the completion of most of the remaining sections was a multi-year NPS development program known as Mission 66.
Under this ten-year program, the pace of construction accelerated. In 1958, projects totaling $16 million were in progress, an all-time record for the parkway. Most of the remaining gaps on the parkway were completed during the Mission 66 program. By its end in 1966, only 7.7 miles remained incomplete. In addition to roadway construction, Mission 66 was responsible for numerous other improvements including campgrounds, visitor centers, lodges and coffee shops, and other public use facilities.
By 1966, the parkway was more than 95% complete, but it would take another two decades to complete the 7.7-mile "missing link" at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. The National Park Service made several unsuccessful attempts to acquire the right-of-way, but the landowner objected strenuously to proposals that he insisted would destroy the beauty of his large private recreational area. A proposed plan to tunnel under a part of the mountain likewise met with objections. In the 1970s the Park Service and the landowner finally agreed on a route that would cause minimal damage to Grandfather Mountain's rugged terrain. A key feature of this route was the revolutionary Linn Cove Viaduct, completed in 1983. Four years later, the entire route of the parkway, extending 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was opened to public travel.
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