Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Parkway's many fathers -- and fans

Sunday's column about the Blue Ridge Parkway and the need to boost maintenance and preserve vistas brought several responses -- including one that pointed out I should have credited Josephus Daniels rather than Jonathan Daniels as a principal player in bringing the parkway route through Western North Carolina instead of Tennessee, as a parkway study committee had recommended.
While Josephus Daniels was Ambassador to Mexico at the time, he was an influential adviser to President Roosevelt, having been close friends since the days of the Woodrow Wilson administration when Daniels was Secretary of the Navy and Roosevelt was his assistant secretary. Jonathan Daniels, Josephus' son,was also a parkway supporter. He became an adviser to Roosevelt in 1941, well after the parkway route decision had been made.

Susan Jackson Mills, executive director of the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, wrote:

Did you know:
·that FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s nationally known program is Save Parkway Views?
·that where land trust groups cannot secure the land that abuts the Parkway that FRIENDS has planted thousands of trees by thousands of volunteers.
·that as the celebration was kicked off in NC that FRIENDS was planting trees in Virginia on both Friday and Saturday to save Parkway views.

A Charlotte reader wrote:

I enjoyed your column on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I moved to Charlotte a few years ago and have taken a couple of trips on the Parkway (Asheville to Boone sections) including a recent one with my mother. She was from Chicago and went on a honeymoon drive on the Parkway in 1957 and had never been back till last year. She was struck by the number of trees and the lack of views with the exception of the overlooks. In your column you mentioned you were on the parkway in the 50's. Is that your memory as well that the length of the parkway was mainly tree free with vista's from every bend?
A problem with the Parkway now is that too many of the overlooks are getting overgrown with trees. (You noted this as well) I am sure we are way past cutting trees along the length of the parkway but what is the problem cutting a few trees at the overlooks? Is the problem dollars or is it environmental? (I am not talking about full scale logging just pruning a few trees in the overlooks where they are encroaching on the view.)

Another reader recalled the contributions of former U.S. Rep. Robert "Muley Bob" Doughton of Allegheny County, a farmer so popular with his constituents that he won 21 terms in the House, serving from 1911 to 1953. It was Doughton for whom Doughton Park -- the largest park and recreational area on the parkway -- is named. Doughton is also credited for having steered the Social Security Act through Congress in 1935. He was also said to be mighty tight with the taxpayers' buck. My friend Ralph Grizzle once recalled that he liked to warn his colleagues, "You can shear a sheep year after year, but you can take his hide only once."

And Joe Epley, the former Charlotte newspaperman and public relations firm executive, reported in from Tryon:

As a trustee of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, I applaud your column in Sunday’s Charlotte Observer. Thank you for making a case about the Parkway’s dilemma and critical need for adequate funding.
We in the Foundation are working diligently to help preserve and enhance the Parkway’s beauty and uniqueness. That’s why more than 25,000 cars in North Carolina support Parkway with the special Blue Ridge Parkway tag. Twenty dollars of each tag fee goes to the Foundation to benefit the Parkway.
When I was a child back in the 1940s, I remember my favorite treat was having my father drive the family up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I then took my children there as often as I could, and later, I gave my grandchildren the same thrill. It is one of America’s great treasures.