Parkway history series starts Saturday at Peaks of Otter

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The public is invited to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway while retracing the history of America’s most popular roadway during three programs that will be held at the Peaks of Otter beginning this weekend.

National Park Service rangers will trace the history of the Parkway from its inception to the present and even look ahead to the future during the series of three programs, which will each be presented once at the Peaks of Otter Amphitheater and once at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.

The history series on the Blue Ridge Parkway that starts this weekend will include many images from the construction of the roadway, and early photographs like this one of the entrance at the Hotel Mons in the early 1920s. Built in 1920, Hotel Mons was located across the Parkway west of the present day Peaks of Otter Lodge.
The history series on the Blue Ridge Parkway that starts this weekend will include many images from the construction of the roadway, and early photographs like this one of the entrance at the Hotel Mons in the early 1920s. Built in 1920, Hotel Mons was located across the Parkway west of the present day Peaks of Otter Lodge.

The first program, featuring National Park Service Ranger David Meyer, is titled “The Early Years 1906-1936.” It will focus on the politics, planning and groundbreaking of the road. It will be presented in the amphitheater on Saturday, July 24, at 8 p.m. This program will be repeated in the Flat Top Room of the Peaks of Otter Lodge at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1.

On Saturday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m., National Park Service Ranger Greg Baltad will present “The Difficult Years, 1937-1963” in the amphitheater and again at the lodge at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 15. This presentation will deal with construction delays during World War II and other problems that were encountered in efforts to complete the roadway.

The last program, “The Most Visited Roadway—1964-Present,” will take place in the Peaks of Otter Amphitheater on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. and will discuss the construction of the Linn Cove Viaduct and the completion of the 469-mile Parkway in 1987. The series will conclude with a repeat of this presentation at the Peaks of Otter Lodge at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 24.

All programs will be followed by a question-and-answer period and will include many images of the Parkway construction. Presentations are free and open to the public. These programs offer an excellent opportunity to learn more about this beautiful roadway so close to neighboring communities and to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway.