The Blue Ridge Parkway and Little Switzerland

The original route that was recommended by the committee dealing with the Parkway didn’t plan for the road to come to Little Switzerland at all. With the route caught in a fight between North Carolina and Tennessee, there was a good chance that Parkway would cross over to Tennessee starting around Linville and bypass Little Switzerland.

When the battle for the route was over and North Carolina was selected for the route south of Linville, the Parkway was not totally welcomed in Little Switzerland. Many seasonal residents had chosen Little Switzerland as a quiet and secluded retreat and were upset by the idea of a highway coming through the town. Little Switzerland’s founder Herriot Clarkson, at first supported a parkway near his community, but was upset by the amount of land required for the road and its scenic easement. He got the highway commission to make two of the most important changes in the design: an interchange centered on the site of the Switzerland Inn and a right of way without the protective scenic easement that almost all of the rest of the mileage in North Carolina had.

The Little Switzerland tunnel was not part of the original plan either. Instead, that plan called for the road to go around the north side of Blands Knob. This would have resulted in a pair of what would have been the tightest curves along the Parkway. The reason for the change to the tunnel is not clear. It may have been decided that it would be less costly to tunnel than buy more right of way.

Driving on the Parkway today, through Little Switzerland, it’s hard to believe that it almost didn’t come at all.

Almost everything is closed in Little Switzerland for the winter – including the Switzerland InnDiamondback Motorcycle Lodge and the Chalet Restaurant.

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