Construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began in 1935, but the 469-mile scenic drive was not completed until 1982, with the installation of the 7.7-mile stretch, known as “missing link” – the Linn Cove Viaduct.
The rest of the Parkway was completed by 1966, but it took another two decades, much controversy, differing opinions of how to route the highway around Grandfather Mountain, and a very creative engineering team to solve the problem. The challenge lay in building a roadway that wouldn’t damage one of the world’s oldest mountains, a slope strewn with boulders that would have been prone to rockslides had traditional methods been employed.
A Bridge Over Land
The firm of Figg & Miller Engineers, Inc. developed the design of a viaduct, which is actually a bridge over land. To protect the land beneath the structure, the viaduct was built from the top down using pre-cast segments supported by piers. The design included almost every kind of alignment geometry ever used in highway construction, and no two of the 153 segments are alike.
The result is the Linn Cove Viaduct, the most complicated bridge ever built, a dramatic sweeping “S” curve that winds around Grandfather Mountain at Linn Cove.
Visitors can view this engineering marvel at the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center, which includes an exhibit of the construction of the viaduct. A trail leads from the center to a site where visitors can get an up-close view of the bridge from beneath.
Hours of Operation
The Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center is open daily May-Oct., 9 a.m.-5 p.m
Located at Milepost 304.4 on the south side of the viaduct.
Blue Ridge Parkway headquarters: (828) 271-4779
Blue Ridge Parkway information line: (828) 298-0398