The Blue Ridge Parkway was built in short units, numbered 1-A through 1-Z in Virginia and 2-A through 2-Z in North Carolina. There was no section in either state with a corresponding letter of “I” or “O” due to confusion with similar-looking numbers. Section 1-A in Virginia eventually became part of Shenandoah National Park.
Almost all Parkway historical materials (maps, photographs, and many documents, especially pertaining to construction and land acquisition) are marked with the corresponding Parkway “section” number. This makes it relatively easy to correlate materials with their location on the land, but, to do that, it is often necessary to cross-reference “sections” with “mileposts.” The materials below give some basic information about these and other matters.
For the 2014 Parks on the Side project, here are some helpful resources organized in such a way as to make it easy for you to navigate them in relationship to the project.
General Overviews of the Parkway & Parkway History
- National Park Service’s Blue Ridge Parkway site
- About the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Driving Through Time site
- Chronology of Parkway Construction
The two studies below, carried out by very capable scholars, will provide summary information about many of the specific Parkway locations and projects that we will be working on in developing the Unbuilt Parkway project. They will also provide leads to primary source materials that may be relevant. Start with these:
- Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress, HAER Survey #NC-42, Blue Ridge Parkway. Survey records online at the Library of Congress’s American Memory site, Built in America series. This is a comprehensive survey of the Blue Ridge Parkway, conducted in 1997, which provides good background for specific locations (including all recreation areas, built and not built). A searchable version of the full text of the study is here.
- Ian J. W. Firth, Blue Ridge Parkway Historic Resource Study (Draft), 2005 [Log in with ONYEN to access.]
Understanding Parkway Places
The two resources below will assist you in identifying where things are on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Blue Ridge Parkway “Linear Log”
- This log was created by Dave Anderson and staff at BLRI (ca 2010). The Linear Log correlates section numbers (2A, 2B, etc.) with mileposts down to the 1/10th of a mile. Also includes road accesses and crossings and all kinds of key features. Station numbers refer to stations (which are measurements of feet) as noted on the Parkway Land Use Maps. Station numbering should start over at beginning of each section; sometimes it starts over within a section as well.
- North Carolina Counties, Landmarks and Mileposts by Parkway Section
Primary Source Materials
Parkway Archives, Asheville
The largest cache of Parkway primary source materials is held at the Parkway headquarters in Asheville. You are not expected to travel there for research, but if you are interested in doing so, please consult the finding aid below first and then make a research appointment with park curator Jackie Holt by emailing her at email@example.com. Ms. Holt may also be able to provide limited assistance by email or over the phone, or may be able to scan limited numbers of specifically requested documents for mailing or emailing to you.
Driving Through Time Digitized Parkway Materials
- Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway
Archival Materials from Blue Ridge Parkway / National Park Service in Denver
- “Folder of Stuff” for History 671 (Parkway historical materials related to project, obtained either from BRP headquarters or from NPS e-Tic repository, Denver, CO)
Other Sources for Primary Materials
There are significant primary sources related to Parkway history that are available to you from here in Chapel Hill:
- UNC Library, North Carolina Collection
- Digital Collections: UNC Library
- Digital Public Library of America
- Hathi Trust Digital Library has many National Park Service brochures, reports, and other materials
- Internet Archive Book Images’ Photostream (Flickr; images from historic public domain books, with metadata and links to full book content)
- Library of Congress, American Memory collection
- Library of Virginia, Virginia Memory digital collections
- NPS History e-Library search the other databases listed at the top of the page (NPS Focus, IRMA Portal, and NPS Library)
- National Park Service History.com contains many of the resources also found on the NPS History e-Library, as well as other materials. Private site maintained by the former manager of the NPS History e-Library (now retired).
- North Carolina e-resources, UNC Library (see especially Newspapers.com)
- Not So ‘Back of Beyond’: Urban Echoes on the Blue Ridge Parkway(Online exhibit at UNC-Asheville). See especially these digitized Parkway primary sources:
- Abstracts of Superintendent’s Annual Reports, 1934-59 (abstracted by Harley Jolley)
- Blue Ridge Parkway News, 1937-43
- Open Parks Network (Clemson University) (growing collection of parks-related studies and historical/cultural materials)
- Parkway history pages on my old Super-Scenic Motorway website, including:
- Parkway historical studies on the National Park Service History page
- University of Virginia Library “Virginia Chronicle” site (newspapers)
Archives with Blue Ridge Parkway Materials
- Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University Libraries.
- North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
Secondary Works with Specific Information Relevant for Parks on the Side Sites
- Blue Ridge Parkway General Management Plan (2013)
- Driving Through Time Overlooks (short essays about Parkway topics)
- Rebecca Jones, African Americans and the Blue Ridge Parkway: Historic Resource Study, 2009 [Log in with ONYEN to access.]
- NCPedia: An Online Encyclopedia about North Carolina