November 30, 2011

Mountain Memories

We decided to give the Blue Ridge Parkway another chance today, even though the weather reports were a bit iffy.  We only planned to drive on the parkway for about twenty-five miles roundtrip from Blowing Rock, North Carolina, so that Tim could see the Linn Cove Viaduct.  This seemed to be doable.

It was a beautiful day to make the drive from Asheville to Blowing Rock.  After the last few days of rain, the sun was a welcome sight.  We started to see snow on the sides of the road as we climbed above 3,000 feet, left over from yesterday’s snow showers.  The roads, however, were clear.

We entered the Blue Ridge Parkway at Blowing Rock, and immediately encountered a winter wonderland.  I’d never seen the parkway in the snow, so this was a new experience for me.  The road was a bit icy in places, as we climbed from 3,600 to 4,315 feet.  As we passed milepost 304, we caught a glimpse of the Linn Cove Viaduct in the distance.  Because there was no traffic on the parkway, Tim did something that he never does – he actually stopped on the road so we could take photos.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Linn Cove Viaduct is a design and engineering landmark and the last piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway to be completed.  Although parkway construction began in 1935, the area around Grandfather Mountain was never finished.  How could a highway be built without destroying the mountain?  It took almost half-a-century to figure out a way.  The viaduct, completed in 1983, was designed to protect the beauty of the mountain and is adapted to the existing contours so that it actually appears to be a part of the mountain.  The viaduct has become one of the most recognized segments of the parkway.

Linn Cove Viaduct

Linn Cove Viaduct, A Little Closer

Linn Cove Viaduct, Even Closer

On the Linn Cove Viaduct
It started to snow as we crossed the Linn Cove Viaduct, so we headed back towards Blowing Rock as planned.  We’ve now experienced rain, snow and fog on the parkway.  I keep remembering the sign as you enter the parkway that advises one to avoid the road in those three conditions.  At least we made it, and it definitely was worth the trip.

Is That Snow?
Neither Rain, Nor Fog, Nor Snow Will Keep Us from the Parkway
Boone, North Carolina, is just eight miles from Blowing Rock, and Tim wanted to see the area where I spend parts of every summer while growing up.  My grandparents lived in Boone, and I loved to come with my parents to visit them.  My grandparents were pioneers of sorts and had opened the first motel in Boone in the late 1940s.  I’m not sure they would recognize the town today.  It’s no longer a sleepy tourist town, but it has lost much of its character.  I can’t say I like what the town has become.

In 1958, my grandfather donated his family’s log cabin to the Southern Appalachian Historical Association, and I took Tim to visit the cabin.  The cabin was built around 1775 and is considered to be the oldest log cabin in Watauga County and one of the oldest cabins in North Carolina.  The cabin was built by Revolutionary War officer James Tatum, and five generations of Tatums lived in it.  The cabin was originally located near Todd, North Carolina, and my grandfather dismantled it, numbering each log, and reassembled it in Boone.

The Tatum Cabin
As a child, I remember going to the cabin with my grandfather, and I loved to listen to him explaining its history to the visitors who came by.  The cabin was one of my favorite places.

Back at the Cabin Again
Boone has had a big influence on me.  It’s where I developed my love for the mountains, and is likely where I first began to appreciate and love historic buildings.  I’m glad that I could share a piece of my past with Tim.


  1. The viaduct is the part I remember most about the Parkway. It is just beautiful to drive on without snow! I love your cabin. :-) Glad you got to revisit it. LV

  2. LV, Isn't it ironic that the one feature so many people remember about the Parkway is a manmade feature? It was great to see it again, as well as the cabin. Sarah

  3. It is a little ironic. ha But the Viaduct opens up part of the scenery we would never see otherwise. It's the cuts through that impressed me. LV