2009 is the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the 1920s, Americans, becoming a nation of motorists, were looking for scenic areas to visit, and the media began to promote the idea of creating a national park in the Smoky Mountains. The North Carolina and Tennessee legislatures each appropriated $2 million to purchase land, since the federal government was not then authorized to buy land for national parks. Private donations added about a million dollars to this fund, and John D. Rockefeller gave another $5 million. Once the land was purchased, after many delays due to lawsuits from logging companies and protests from local farmers, Congress passed the legislation to create the park. The Civilian Conservation Corps, a federal program to give work to the unemployed during the Great Depression, built trails, campgrounds, and bridges. As soon as it opened, this 520,000-acre park became the most-visited in the national parks system, and today it attracts over 9 million visitors a year. It is known for its spectacular natural beauty, as well as for its recreational opportunities, including miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. Other reasons for its popularity are that about one-third of U.S. residents live within a day’s drive of the park, that the weather is good for most of the year, and that it provides an inexpensive vacation.
Celebrate the anniversary by a trip to the park, enhancing your experience by referring to the park’s website and by reading books from the library’s collection.
The library’s many guidebooks include Hiking the Carolina Mountains by Danny Bernstein (which includes about forty pages on the park) and Lonely Planet Great Smoky Mountains & Shenandoah National Parks by Loretta Chilcoat. Also look for guidebooks on North Carolina and for books about the country’s national parks, such as The Official Guide to America’s National Parks, published by Fodor, Frommer’s National Parks with Kids and National Geographic’s Guide to the National Parks of the United States. For the park’s history, try Birth of a National Park in the Great Smoky Mountains by Carlos Clinton Campbell and My CCC Days: Civilian Conservation Corps by Frank C. Davis. Davis was an 18-year-old from Mebane when he joined the CCC. Books on various aspects of the park include Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by Donald W. Linzey, A Roadside Guide to the Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by Harry L. Moore, and Historic Buildings of the Smokies by Ed Trout.