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The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway

'For the Benefit of the Public': Competition between Tourism and Lumber in Pisgah

By Andrew Wells

Bridal Veil Falls, Route 28, N.C.

North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Nestled in the Pisgah National Forest, section 2-V of the Blue Ridge Parkway skirts the line between Haywood and Transylvania counties. Stretching from mileposts 418 to 429, this eleven-mile section contains over a dozen parking areas and scenic overlooks. Visitors have ample opportunity to take in the scenic beauty of the “Land of Waterfalls,” as the Brevard Board of Trade dubbed this region in 1907.[1] Crossed by roads only three times, 2-V also fulfills the plan for the Parkway to be a limited access road--with as few crossings as possible to provide maximum scenic enjoyment. Despite its success as a scenic road, however, the section was also the source of conflict between the National Park Service and the United States Forest Service. The duality of the local economy—which depended on both tourism and logging--set the stage for conflict between the National Park Service and the United States Forest Service as the Blue Ridge Parkway was being planned. Both services wanted to see the forests in Transylvania and Haywood Counties made available for the public's use. But while the Park Service's mandate was to preserve wilderness areas for recreation, the Forest Service was responsible not for preservation but management and use of natural resources—including lumber. In order to build this section, the Park Service had to negotiate with the Forest Service a solution “for the benefit of the public.”

Guests Race Regatta, Toxaway Inn, Lake Toxaway, N.C.

North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Brevard, North Carolina, was developing into a resort community.[2] In 1890, J. Francis Hayes, a Pennsylvania industrialist and entrepreneur, came to the area. What he found was “a beautiful and healthful place for rest and relaxation.” Hayes became so fond of the area that in 1895 he formed the Toxaway Company, with the aim of building resorts throughout Transylvania and Jackson counties. In 1905, the Toxaway Company completed its crowning accomplishment, the $25,000 Franklin Hotel.[3] The late 1800s saw several such resorts spring up in the area.[4]

Franklin Hotel, Brevard, N.C.

North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Developers' enthusiasm for this part of Transylvania County was not lost on the Brevard Board of Trade. They viewed tourism as a way to boost the local economy. In 1907 they printed a brochure describing Brevard as a popular and ideal spot for both winter and summer recreation. Citing the “healthy climate, beautiful scenery, and outdoor recreational opportunities,” the brochure labeled this area “The Land of Waterfalls” and deemed it the gateway to the “Beautiful Sapphire Country.” Since this publication was published by the Brevard Board of Trade, the authors were quick to place Brevard at the center of this great landscape.[5]

Ecusta Paper Corporation, Pisgah Forest, N.C., Near Brevard

North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tourism was not the only economic activity in this region. The lumber industry also found a home in the forests surrounding what would become Parkway Section 2-V. Lumber became a vital part of the Transylvania and Haywood counties' economies in the early the twentieth century.[6] In the Pisgah Forest, companies like the Ecusta Paper Corporation, located near Brevard, and the Champion Fibre Company, located in Canton, in Haywood County, depended on logging for their products. The 1947 Blue Ridge Parkway Guide contained an article by Karl G. Krueger, Forest Supervisor, titled, “The Pisgah National Forest and The Parkway”. Writing long after debates between national parks and national forests started, Krueger provided some insight into the way the two agencies were interacting in the late 1940s, around the time that section 2-V of the Blue Ridge Parkway was being completed. He wrote that the Forest Service owned much of the land that through which the Blue Ridge Parkway passed as it wended its way through the Pisgah National Forest. According to Krueger, the scenic value of the parkway was dependent on the U.S. Forest Service management of the forest land adjacent to it. Krueger claimed that “the Forest Service recognizes that Parkway values might be impaired through unwise management of its lands.” To ensure that scenic views would not be disrupted by logging, National Park Service officials and Forest Service officials agreed that land surrounding the parkway would be specially managed to prevent extensive lumbering near the scenic road.

Lumber Team in Brevard, N.C.

North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Krueger’s portrayal of the U.S. Forest Service-National Park Service agreement highlighted “integrated land use on the part of two Agencies which have somewhat different policies and objectives, but can work together for the benefit of the public.” Krueger claimed that both groups “conscientiously” abided by the agreement and explained that the U.S. Forest Service was allowed to sustain logging and other activities, as long as the average Parkway visitor was not aware of the activity. The article emphasized that the United States Forest Service was working with the National Park Service to meet the demands of both the lumber and tourism industries. This cooperation allowed two vital components of both Haywood and Transylvania County’s economy to coexist.



1. Phillips, Laura A., and Deborah J. Thompson. Transylvania : The Architectural History of a Mountain County. Raleigh, N.C.: Transylvania County Joint Historic Preservation Commission in association with Marblehead Pub., c1998., 37

2. Ibid., 32

3. Ibid., 33

4. Ibid., 36

5. Ibid., 37

6. McCall-Dickson, Yvonne. Transylvania County. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, c2005., 37