CNY Hiking HOME PAGE Tanawha Trail North Carolina BRP Highlights Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway

Linn Cove

Cold Prong, Rough Ridge, Tanawha Trail, Wilson Creek, Grandfather Mountain, Boone Fork, Stack Rock Falls



After 52 years of construction, the Blue Ridge Parkway was completed in September 1987.  Ground was broken on September 11, 1935 near Cumberland Knob, North Carolina and all but 7.5 miles of its 469 miles were constructed by 1967.

During the next twenty years from 1967, this final section, which skirts the rugged and rocky perimeter of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, presented state as well as federal officials with a number of obstacles that were solved with perseverance and innovation.

The exact route location of this segment, commonly referred to as the "missing link", created a lengthy and heated controversy between private individuals and the National Park Service.  Finally, North Carolina Governor Dan K. Moore negotiated a compromise location. 

A key factor of this controversy was environmental concerns.  Engineers were faced with a serious question:  How to build a road at an elevation of 4100 feet without damaging one of the world's oldest mountains?  National Park Service landscape architects and Federal Highway Administration engineers agreed the road should be elevated or bridged where ever possible to eliminate massive cuts and fills.

Figg and Muller Engineers, Inc. developed the bridge design and construction method.  The result was the Linn Cove Viaduct at milepost 304 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This was the most complicated concrete bridge ever built, snaking around the boulder strewn Linn Cove in a sweeping "S" curve.

Construction was delayed until 1979, when the US Congress finally approved funding for the Viaduct.  Completed in 1983 at a cost of nearly $10 million, the Linn Cove Viaduct is 1243 feet long and contains 153 segments weighing 50 tons each.  Only one segment, the southernmost, is straight.

To prevent environmental damage there was no access road built as all the construction was done from the top down to minimize disturbance to the natural environment.  The only ground level construction was for the seven permanent piers on which the Viaduct rests.  The only trees cut were those directly below the superstructure.

Each of the segments were pre-cast at an indoors location a few miles away.  Each pre-cast section was lowered by a stiff leg crane and expoxied into position against the preceding segment.  Steel cables threaded through the segments secured the entire bridge deck.

The other portions of the "missing link", most of them north of the Viaduct, were completed a little bit at a time between 1968 and 1987.  In addition to the Viaduct, the 7.5 mile section includes 12 bridges, 12 parking overlooks and the 13.5 mile Tanawha Trail (which was finished in 1993 at a cost of $750,000).  A visitor center is located at the south end of the Viaduct.

A ribbon cutting dedication ceremony on September 11, 1987 heralded the completion of Blue Ridge Parkway and the end of the 14 mile detour via US 221.  The final section is a triumph of engineering and sensitivity to the environment.  It is a thrilling section of the Parkway to drive.

The Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway


CNY Hiking HOME PAGE Tanawha Trail North Carolina BRP Highlights Blue Ridge Parkway