75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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.

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Attention Mountain Travelers!: Chimney Rock Park’s Elevator Down for Repairs; I-40 Blocked By Slide at NC-TN Border

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

Just in case you’re planning a trip to Chimney Rock Park, one of western North Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations, the News and Record reports today that their elevator is shut down for repairs

If you’re not familiar with the Park, but still want to go and make a trek up to the monolith, the lack of an elevator means you’ll have to climb a vertiginous (a favorite word of one of my colleagues), winding set of stairs in order to reach the Rock — and, if you’re the least bit afraid of high places, you will find that walk pretty darn scary!  

Mountain travelers should also be aware of the rock slide which occurred on I-40 near the NC-Tennessee line on October 25th.  It is estimated that as many as three or four months will be needed to remove the debris.  The last open westbound exit is #20 (U.S. 276 to Maggie Valley).  Eastbound I-40 travelers are being rerouted to Asheville via I-81 and I-26.  Repairs have been delayed owing to recent heavy rains.

Of course, you can still visit our beautiful mountains, and gosh knows there are lots of things to see and do up there. 

And please, anytime you plan travel to western North Carolina or, for that matter, almost any other destination, keep in mind that Greensboro Public Library has plenty of guidebooks and other travel writing which may help you to plan your journey. 

For instance, visitors to our mountains can find recent titles in our collection such as High Vistas:  An Anthology of Nature Writing from Western North Carolina & the Great Smoky Mountains, edited by George Ellison; 100 classic Hikes in North Carolina:   Coastal Carolina/Piedmont/Blue Ridge Parkway/Pisgah National Forest/Great Smoky Mountains; Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains:  A Guidebook by Georgann Eubanks; and North Carolina’s Best Wildflower Hikes:  The Mountains by Kevin Adams.