BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY TUNNELS
The legislated purpose of the Blue Ridge Parkway was to link Shenandoa and Great Smokey Mountains National Parks with a road designed for pleasant motoring as well as conserve and interpret the unique natural and cultural resources of the Southern Highlands. Rather than just a park-to-park connection, the parkway was conceived and planned as an elongated national park providing recreational and park activities. Traveling the parkway was intended to be a "ride-a-while, stop-a-while" experience complete with scenic pullouts, recreation areas, and visitor contact stations.
In keeping with the design standard of minimizing impacts to the land, tunnels are used in areas of steep terrain with ridges that run perpendicular to the roadway alignment. Tunnels are used more extensively in North Carolina (twenty-five times) due to more rugged terrain versus Virginia, which has only one tunnel. The construction of the tunnels was a costly and hazardous part of building the road. Parkway tunnels were excavated in the pre-war period using compressed air drills and dynamite. Later, the use of a jumbo rig made it possible to drill and blast an entire tunnel face in one operation. Tunnel lengths range from 150 feet at Rough Ridge to 1,434 feet at Pine Mountain and all but three have a minimum height of 13 feet. Lining was first used in the Devil's Courthouse Tunnel due to tunnel cave-ins during construction. Approximately one quarter of the structure was subsequently lined with concrete. Acting Superintendent Abbuehl observed a noticeable improvement in lighting on the lined section, a point he felt favored lining of other structures. An additional benefit was the elimination of much of the moisture entering the tunnels, which caused ice problems in the winter.
Tunnel locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway:
|Little Switzerland Tunnel - Milepost 333.4||Young Pisgah Ridge Tunnel - Milepost 403.0|
|Wildacres Tunnel - Milepost 336.8||Fork Mountain Tunnel - Milepost 404.0|
|Twin Tunnel North - Milepost 344.5||Little Pisgah Tunnel - Milepost 406.9|
|Twin Tunnel South - Milepost 344.7||Buck Springs Tunnel - Milepost 407.3|
|Rough Ridge Tunnel - Milepost 349.0||Frying Pan Tunnel - Milepost 410.1|
|Craggy Pinnacle Tunnel - Milepost 364.4||Devil's Courthouse Tunnel - Milepost 422.1|
|Craggy Flats Tunnel - Milepost 365.5||Pinnacle Ridge Tunnel - Milepost 439.7|
|Tanbark Ridge Tunnel - Milepost 374.0||Lickstone Ridge Tunnel - Milepost 458.8|
|Grassy Knob Tunnel - Milepost 397.1||Bunches Bald Tunnel - Milepost 459.3|
|Pine Mountain Tunnel - Milepost 399.1||Big Witch Tunnel - Milepost 461.2|
|Ferrin Knob Tunnel #1 - Milepost 400.9||Rattlesnake Mountain Tunnel - Milepost 465.5|
|Ferrin Knob Tunnel #2 - Milepost 401.3||Sherril Cove Tunnel - Milepost 466.2|
|Ferrin Knob Tunnel #3 - Milepost 401.5|
From: "Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Jennifer K. Cuthbertson, 1997 (Sheet 1 of 28) and Lia M. Dikigoropoulou, 1997, (Sheet 24 of 28).