Book Review: The Blue Ridge Parkway by Harley E. Jolley

A fascinating book exploring the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway from concept to reality.

Written by

Jason Barnette


December 31, 2019

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Read Now, Travel Later

COVID-19 has changed the world. The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit areas of the global pandemic. Local restaurants, museums, state and national parks have all changed hours of operation, procedures, and some have gone out of business altogether.

Please verify current operations of any places you want to visit mentioned in these articles, and contact me if a business has permanently closed so I can update the article. Thank you and stay safe out there!

One of the times I drove the Blue Ridge Parkway end-to-end I stopped at the Folk Art Center in Asheville and saw something that changed my perspective forever. It was a landscape drawing of an arched bridge crossing over Linville Falls! Apparently, an original route planned for the Parkway would have included a bridge crossing this beautiful and serene waterfall.

After seeing this I was determined to learn more about the history of the Parkway. I asked a park ranger for a recommendation and he handed me The Blue Ridge Parkway by Harley E. Jolley, an historian specializing in the pioneer history of the Parkway area.

With illustrated maps, historical photographs, and a talent for making history sound incredibly interesting, Jolley expounds the compelling creation of America’s Favorite Drive. Pulling from newspaper articles, legal documents, and Congressional memos, the history of the Parkway unfolds in ways I never expected.

With an index and milepost guide in the book I would say this is an excellent companion to any road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Did you know at one time the route of the Parkway was to pass through Tennessee instead of North Carolina? You’ll find that map on page 60!



The Blue Ridge Parkway is the perfect companion to a road trip on America’s Favorite Drive.

This book, published in 1969, can be somewhat difficult to find. I bought my copy at the gift shop at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, NC. I also saw a copy of the book for sale at Highland Books in Brevard, NC. I have not been able to locate this book online.

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