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Roving Around

First viaduct in United States a bridge of beauty

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Reporting on happenings in Wake Forest and the surrounding area for more than 45 years gave me an opportunity to take photos of various construction projects. For example, I photographed the steel girders going up for the new CCB building downtown (which is no longer a bank). I photographed the rising of the water tower on South White Street, as well as the first renovation of the town’s public swimming pool at Holding Park.

In the mid-1980s, I had the opportunity to photograph a construction project that was unique. It was the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct at Grandfather Mountain.

One weekend when the Camera Clinic was being held on Grandfather Mountain, all attendees were treated (including Peg and me) to a close-up view beneath the viaduct during the construction. We wore hard hats and took careful steps as Hugh Morton, then president of Grandfather Mountain, explained the details of the beautiful bridge.

The bridge arcs around the side of the mountain like a rainbow on its side. Precast sections were brought in and set on concrete pillars, allowing motorists on the parkway to see more of the mountain. This was the first bridge of its type in the United States. But it almost didn’t happen. The parkway service originally planned to cut out a side of the mountain. Morton didn’t like this idea, and he began exploring alternatives. He learned about the viaduct being used in the French Alps and investigated at great length. Finally, an agreement was made to build the viaduct.

I never heard what it cost, except that it was expensive. But it serves a great purpose to save the famous and popular Grandfather Mountain from destruction.

When you drive on the viaduct, it feels as though you move with the clouds around the mountain. In the fall, you can almost reach out and touch the colors.

As the late Morton described in his book “Hugh Morton’s North Carolina,” the color variety seen from the viaduct is greater than anywhere in the N.C. mountains. Red is provided by gum, maple, and huckleberry trees. Yellow is the gift from birch, poplar, and sassafras trees.

The bridge is so impressive in the way it flows with nature that Rand McNally used a photo of it on the cover of their 2000 road atlas of North America.

I enjoyed taking photos the day we visited it. I had so many photos, I ended up providing a full-page display in The Wake Weekly the following week.

After the viaduct was completed in 1987, Peg and I loved to drive over it. We would slow down, and while surrounded by the beauty of thousands of trees seemingly within our physical reach, we would remember the day we saw it under construction.

If you want to enjoy photos of the viaduct and other images from across the state, I highly recommend Morton’s book. If you do see it, let me know your thoughts.While we are staying at home to do our part in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, it’s a good time to explore books.

Meals on Wheels surprise

When my Meals on Wheels arrived on Wednesday in the large box full of frozen meals and other things like 2% milk, fruit juices, fruit cups of different kinds and bread, I was really surprised to see a light green card. It was made from an 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper folded four ways into what looked just like a purchased greeting card. On it were large hand-written letters reading,“You are Incredible.” on the cover with a pasted picture of a colorful bug.

Opening up the card there were two more pictures pasted along with a note: “Have A blessed Day! Love, Amy, Wake Forest Woman’s Club.”

All this was attached to a neat little box of Russell Stover solid milk chocolates with a transparent biblical cross to show the chocolates inside. I could hardly contain myself from trying a sample of this tempting morsel.

Thank you, Amy, for making my day. You deserve a lot of credit for this unusual card.


Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, invites comments at 984-235-7294 or robertwallen29@gmail.com.

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