Parks to the Side is a web exhibit created by the students in the Fall 2014 version of Dr. Anne Whisnant’s History 671, Introduction to Public History, course at UNC-Chapel Hill. This exhibit brings together stories of the history, evolution, and current status of several of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s iconic “recreation areas” — places like Mt. Pisgah, Linville Falls, Doughton Park, Cumberland Knob, Rocky Knob, and Mabry Mill.
Exploring the history of these “parks to the side” (as early Parkway designer Stanley Abbott called them in a 1938 document quoted on p. 159 of the 1997 HABS/HAER Parkway study) in the larger context of the National Park Service’s approaching Centennial (2016) reminds us that the Parkway is an ever-evolving landscape. How can understanding this reality, and these histories, help us re-imagine these sites for the 21st century?