Weede, Fred. Battle for the Blue Ridge Parkway. 1957. Buncombe County Public Library. Asheville, North Carolina.
The mystery! The political intrigue! A previously hidden history! Fred Weede promised all of this in the foreword of his document (a memoir, perhaps? I am not sure at this time what it is) that provides an insider’s view of the battle between North Carolina and Tennessee for the Parkway. Weede, former Manager of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, had left files on nearly half a century worth of Asheville and Western North Carolina history, which his successor apparently had destroyed. At this time (I am about 9 pages in) I have not discovered why all of these valuable documents were destroyed, but I found this intriguing! However, upon retiring Weede had taken a few letters with him which were “of such personal nature that I felt their contents should not be available to anyone else, since the writers were still living and might be embarrassed should their correspondences with me be made public.” Again, I have not yet reached the part where Weede reveals the contents of the letters, but I was hooked. Weede indicates these letters will be included in his narrative. What was so sensitive that Weede insisted on waiting until his Correspondences had passed away to reveal the contents of the letters? He also promises to relate all that transpired, “in the open and behind the scenes,” as he was informed of every movement along the way. Apparently, according to the author, at the time he wrote this document there was only one other living individual who knew as much as he did about what transpired in the open and in secret.
Now, did Weede take a more dramatic tone than necessary? Did I simply misinterpret the meaning behind Weede’s foreword? Or will Weede deliver the political excitement and secrecy that he promised? And WHY were all those valuable documents destroyed? I later read that Weede’s successor had them burned. I cannot for the life of me figure out why someone would do this instead of turning it over to an archive. I have yet to learn the answers to all these questions but will surely keep you all updated as I uncover Weede’s truth. At this point it seems like the battle between NC and TN for the Blue Ridge Parkway was rather intense!
For an update on our progress: Yesterday afternoon Liz and I took a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway Headquarters to meet with Jackie Holt. While we didn’t look at as many actual primary sources, the folks at the BRP gave us plenty of sources on a flash drive! In addition, Jackie gave us a couple of oral histories of individuals who were at the CCC camp in North Carolina. We also had a nice talk with the landscape architect. He knew a bit more about how the Parkway acquired land from locals (hint: in NC the land wasn’t given up voluntarily) and gave us maps of some of the land acquired by the state from individuals for the purpose of the Parkway. It was overall an extremely productive visit. We are going to meet Jackie at the BRP archives tomorrow to possibly get our hands on more sources. In the meantime we have more than enough digital sources to keep us busy. Now that we finally have to opportunity to start digging into primary sources, I am both relieved and intimidated. There’s so much to sort through and interpret, so much information to organize. And then there is the matter of putting it into a form that the public can take in and absorb. I’m sure we will get through it all, so for now I will just focus on interpreting each document in turn.