|Blue Ridge Parkway history now online|
|Thursday, January 12, 2012|
The history of the Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s most visited National Park System site, is now online.
The new collection, “Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina,” was created through a collaborative project based at the library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“Driving Through Time,” available at http://docsouth.unc.edu/blueridgeparkway/, presents photographs, maps, news articles, oral histories and essays documenting development and construction of the parkway’s North Carolina segment.
The site invites users to explore parkway history chronologically, geographically or by dozens of topics from access roads and automobiles to wildlife and workmen. An interactive maps feature layers historical maps atop current road maps and satellite images. The comparisons provide insight into the parkway’s development and its impact on pre-parkway towns, farms, roads and topography.
Whisnant, author of the parkway history “Super-Scenic Motorway” (UNC Press, 2006) and the children’s book “When the Parkway Came” (Primary Source Publishers, 2010), was often frustrated as she combed archives and historic documents and tried to translate conflicts about routing and land rights into words.
“I found myself thinking, ‘If only I could see and show what and where they’re talking about, it would be so much easier to explain the arguments,’” she said. “‘Driving Through Time’ makes the park’s history visible and accessible to historians, planners, local communities, landowners and anyone who wants to know more about this American landmark.”
At the heart of the project are thousands of items from three institutions that collaborated to create the site: The Wilson Special Collections Library at UNC; the Blue Ridge Parkway headquarters (a division of the National Park Service, located in Asheville); and the North Carolina State Archives.
Materials in the online collection include:
Eleven essays share more insight into the building of the parkway and its impact. Whisnant and her students wrote about issues including competition between the tourism and logging industries, the parkway’s impact on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and selection of the parkway route.
Also included are K-12 lesson plans that faculty from the School of Education developed to help students use the site’s extensive primary source materials and interpretive essays.
“Driving Through Time” was made possible by a $150,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services under provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, as administered by the State Library of North Carolina.
Photos: Part of online exhibit, supplied by the National Park Service, Blue Ridge Parkway:
Tourists look at a scenic view from Fox Hunters Paradise in the Cumberland Knob Area of the Blue Ridge Parkway, 1940s:
A car cruises the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, 1946:
Library contact: Natasha Smith, (919) 962-9590,