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The Blue Ridge Parkway was constructed in the 1930's as part of the New Deal programs President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented to put Americans back to work following the Great Depression.
The Parkway was designed to serve as a recreational road that would connect the Shenandoah National Park of Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of North Carolina.
The construction of this incredibly scenic road was a collaborative effort between the State Highway Departments in Virginia and North Carolina as well as numerous private contractors who contributed to completing the project.
Much of the landscaping and trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps and most of the iconic stone work that signifies many of the Parkway's bridges and overlooks was completed by Italian and Spanish stone masons who were contracted for various jobs and portions of the road.
The Parkway makes its way through 29 counties of Virginia and North Carolina across streams, railway ravines, and cross roads with six viaducts and 168 bridges. Many of these bridges and viaducts are forced to close during winter months due to inclement weather.
Mileposts were placed on the side of the road to denote the distance visitors had traveled on the Parkway. The mileposts start at 0 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and end at 469 in North Carolina at the southern end of the road.
The exit for Downtown Roanoke is located at Milepost 120.
At 469 miles in length, the Blue Ridge Parkway was a massive construction project that took a significant investment of time, resources, and finances to complete. Work started on the Parkway in 1935 and approximately half of the 469 miles were completed prior to World War II.
More of the construction was completed during the 1950s and 1960s and the section around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, including the Linn Cove Viaduct, was finished in 1987, which marked the end of the construction of the Parkway as it is currently designed.
The road and land on either side of it is maintained and owned by the National Park Service. It's not considered a "National Park," but it is annually the most visited unit in the national park system and has been named "America's Favorite Drive" by various publications.