Sunday, August 24, 2008

"The Missing Link" of the Parkway

Over the past couple of months, we have made a number of short trips on portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs 469 miles from Rockfish Gap, near Waynesboro, VA southward to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina. Today we traveled about 30 miles of the Parkway between a point below Linville Falls, NC north to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, near Boone, NC.

I thought I would just present some of the photos of the scenes that we saw today without precise location. In some instances, the overlooks have foliage that has grown over the years to block the original vistas. More often the beautiful views are reduced to brief glimpses while traveling the Parkway.

One of the most scenic overlooks was at Altapass. The next two photos show the view from the Parkway overlooking the Orchards at Altapass

At Linville Falls Visitor Center we took a short hike on one of the trails and stopped by one of the rivers running through the mountains.

It was quite clear that the lack of rain in the area was having an adverse impact on the rivers.

We had lunch at a table near a river where other travelers were having lunch. The kids shown here could almost walk across this river on the rocks exposed due to the lack of rain.

All but 7.5 miles of the 469 miles of the Parkway were completed between 1935 and 1967. Then began a 20-year period of controversy, centering on how to construct the "missing link," the 1,243-foot section of the Parkway that was to become known as the Linn Cove Viaduct, "the most complicated concrete bridge ever built."

In order to construct this section of the roadway without destroying a portion of the mountain, the Viaduct was built from the top down. That is, "the Viaduct itself was the only access road for constuction. Each pre-cast section was lowered by a stiff-leg crane and epoxied into positon against the preceding segment. Steel cables threaded through the segments secured the entire bridge deck" of the sweeping "S" curve that snakes around Linn Cove. Only one (the southernmost) of the 153 segments that make up the 1,243-foot curve is straight (from Building the Viaduct, NPS).

You will see "bird's-eye-view" photos of the Viaduct on virtually any printed information about the Parkway. I thought you might like to see what it looks like from underneath.
It's a quick, easy quarter-mile drive, but it's an exciting one--the road seems to float in mid-air.

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