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Blue Ridge Parkway

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1935 initial construction

The Blue Ridge Parkway was the first long-distance rural parkway developed by the National Park Service. Its designers adapted parkway development strategies originating in suburban commuter routes and metropolitan park systems and expanded them to a regional scale, creating a scenic motorway linking two of the most prominent eastern national parks.


Much of the construction, including that of the Heintooga Round Bottom Road and Balsam Mountain Road, was undertaken by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. Once established, this road system provided access to the first national park in the southern portion of the United States as well as links to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park.
The parkway was conceived as a multiple-purpose corridor that would fulfill a variety of social, recreational, environmental and pragmatic functions. In addition to preserving and showcasing attractive natural scenery, the parkway was designed to display the traditional cultural landscapes of the southern Appalachian highlands, providing visitors with an idealized vision of America's rural heritage.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserves a rich cultural tapestry of Southern Appalachian history. The mountains have had a long human history spanning thousands of years—from the prehistoric Paleo Indians to early European settlement in the 1800s to loggers and Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees in the 20th century.

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