Driving Down Memory Lane: The High Country's First Scenic Byway

Article by Randy Johnson via WNC Magazine

Article by Randy Johnson via WNC Magazine

The Blue Ridge Parkway first snaked around Grandfather Mountain via the Linn Cove Viaduct in the late 1980s, but nearly 100 years prior, an equally modern marvel of engineering enticed tourists across the same mountainside.

That improbable artery was the Yonahlossee Road, and it penetrated virgin wilderness back when the High Country was barely accessible via trails and wagon tracks.

Yonahlossee Road was a 20-mile, gradually graded, spectacularly scenic route. Built in 1890, it was hailed as “the best road in the mountains” by early state highway engineers, deeming it “excellent for summer travel through one of the most beautiful and interesting portions of the mountain region.” It did nothing less than lead the earliest tourists across Grandfather Mountain, and most importantly, to Linville.