Taking Another Look: New Views of the Blue Ridge Parkway

: In this program, Dr. Anne Mitchell Whisnant leads audiences on a Blue Ridge Parkway journey different from the one they take either when driving the road or when reading about it.  Going beyond Parkway views, scenery, and wildflowers, campgrounds, bridges, and tunnels, Whisnant delves into the complicated and often contentious processes that brought the road into being from the 1930s into the 1980s. Looking at stories of Asheville, Little Switzerland, Ashe County, Cherokee, and Grandfather Mountain—Whisnant explores historical conflicts over land purchases, routing, Parkway access and use.

This presentation also demonstrates how new technologies are changing the stories that we can tell about the past.  Drawing upon her experience as the scholarly advisor to "Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway," (http://docsouth.unc.edu/blueridgeparkway/) an online portal to Parkway history, Whisnant demonstrates how digitally overlaying historical maps on present-day landscapes help us visualize what was at stake in historical conflicts and what might have happened had different decisions been made.

Throughout, the presentation makes the point that the Parkway looks like it does because of specific past choices--outcomes in which some people got what they wanted and others did not. The program concludes with a few thoughts about how understanding these historical processes can empower us to act on the Parkway's behalf in the present and future.

Lectern, microphone, VGA projector with cables, for use with presenter’s laptop computer, screen. Internet connection would be helpful.