Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 30

. . . they designed parkway
facilities to look like local
pioneer structures.

Guard walls were taken apart and reinforced to meet federal highway safety
standards.Vegetation is crawling across them now, making them look as
though they've been there forever.

The Rock Guard Walls
Here's a story I'd partly forgotten, until I started rereading what I'd written about
the Blue Ridge Parkway for this magazine-and one that bears repeating. From just
south of Doughton Park to the North Carolina/Virginia state line, 31,000 linear feet
of dry masonry guard walls were built, from the rock blasted from the mountains to
make room for the roadway. By the time that they ceased to function very well as a
barrier to prevent vehicles leaving the roadway from tumbling down the mountainside-at least in the Federal Highway Administration's opinion-they were part of the
parkway's "historic fabric," and parkway landscape architects fought a long battle to
retain them. A compromise was eventually reached; the walls were taken down, and,
where needed, footers were poured, the walls strengthened in various ways, and
small reflectors attached to help drivers see them at night and in foggy weather.
This work is now complete, as it wasn't in 2010, when I wrote my article (May/
June 2010; see link in adjoining sidebar). Driving the parkway now, those walls look
as though they were never taken apart and reassembled. Grapevines, virgin's bower
and Virginia creeper are extending their reach across them. But here's the irony I'd
forgotten: Far from being part of the vision of orginal parkway landscape architect
Stan Abbott, they were something he vigorously opposed, on grounds that they
reduced shoulder width, cost more than the guardrails he favored, and introduced
an inappropriate design element. That may be, but I, for one, always look forward to
seeing them. I think they're beautiful.
-ECH

30

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

was long gone. Only a stray sunbeam that
highlighted the distinctive architecture of
Joe-pye weed not yet in bloom hinted at
the bloom season to come, when goldenrod and aster, wild sunflowers and ironweed drench parkway verges in yellow
and every shade of purple.
The parkway's green curtain, overarched by leafy foliage, was pulled back at
overlooks to reveal an agricultural patchwork beyond the downslope treetops, and
a blur of blue ridges on the horizon. The
overlooks were designed by Ed Abbuehl,
one of Stan Abbott's college professors,
who had lost his job in the Depression,
and was hired by his former student. A
secretary who worked for them remembered the felicitousness of their working
relationship. Abbott was a dreamer, Abbuehl a realist. "Can't be done, Stan,"
she heard Abbuehl say more than once,
as Abbott spun visions of lakes and golf
courses for recreation areas, the "beads on
a string" that would provide visitors with
the desired "ride awhile, stop awhile"
parkway experience. After a pause: "Okay,
Ed, we'll do it your way."
Thanks to what Weems called Abbott's
"fine planning hand," the parkway includes a superb blend of scenery and a
showcase for native craft and husbandry,
set off by a carefully managed roadside
designed to look natural.
"Good design implies restraint, which
is creative of itself," Abbott said. His vision for the parkway must have begun to


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018

Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 43
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 46
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 55
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 58
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 68
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 69
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 70
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 71
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 72
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 73
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 74
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Cover4
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