Too much history, too little time

Too much history, too little time

(Originally posted to VIrtual Blue Ridge’s Blue Ridge Parkway Blog, September 17, 2008)

I have been terribly remiss at adding anything to this blog recently and apologize for that. There is so much going on with my Blue Ridge Parkway work that I have had no time to blog! I hope to get back to more regular posts soon, but wanted to update you on some of what is afoot:

Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary: Plans for a year 2010 celebration of the 75th anniversary of the beginning of construction are proceeding quickly. A set of kickoff events happening in Roanoke on October 9th and 10th will begin with a symposium I have arranged that will look at how an understanding of the past helps us think about the Parkway’s future. “A Living Past on a Borrowed Landscape: The Blue Ridge Parkway at 75” will inagurate a conversation about the challenges facing the Parkway. We’ll also hope to identify areas where more research about the Parkway is needed; we hope that some of that research will be presented at a larger symposium or conference in 2010. The October 9th discussion is open to the public, and I hope that many of you will plan to attend. Full details about this event and all of the other Parkway 75th kickoff plans are available here.

Now, you may ask: why Roanoke? Well, the 75th anniversary of the Parkway is actually many anniversaries, as there were many events in the 1930s that can be called “the beginning” of the Parkway. The first of those beginnings happened in the fall of 1933 when Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd covened a meeting of representatives from Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee in his Washington office to flesh out what was then a fledgling idea about a parkway to connect Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks. Since Virginia played such a key role in getting the Parkway ball rolling in 1933, it seemed logical that the first activity of the 75th celebration should be based among Virginians.

Blue Ridge Parkway Day at Mast General Stores: I spent last Saturday, September 13th, at the Mast General Store in Asheville, participating in their first-ever Blue Ridge Parkway day! Mast and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation have partnered to promote stewardship of the Parkway, and Mast generously agreed to donate 10% of their sales proceeds from all of their stores on Saturday the 13th to the Foundation to support the Parkway. Saturday was a gorgeous day, with lots of people out on the streets in Asheville and many shopping at Mast. I enjoyed talking with store visitors about the Parkway and the Foundation, and loved getting to know some of Mast’s Asheville employees, who made me feel right at home. Thanks, Mast!

Talks, Talks, and More Talks: In the next two months, I’m doing seven talks and presentations about the Parkway’s history to groups as varied as the “Village Elders” in Chapel Hill to the Society of North Carolina Archivists meeting in Boone. Come out and see me! The full schedule of my public events is online here.

Whew! There are other projects ongoing as well — stay tuned! For me (to paraphrase Faulkner), the Parkway’s history is never dead; it isn’t even past.

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