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View Full Version : The "Road to Nowhere" is Back in the News


JoeFred
12-18-2009, 07:35 AM
Lakeview Drive.. Where does it go from here?

Yesterday the U.S. House approved a provision to give Swain County, NC $13 million toward settling the decades-long dispute over a proposed road through the North Shore area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler's office said the Senate is expected to pass the bill this weekend.

Full story at
http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20091217/NEWS01/91217021

JF

Jim Casada
12-18-2009, 08:50 AM
Joe Fred--As someone who has long advocated the monetary settlement on the Road to Nowhere issue and who has been a member of Citizens for the Economic Future of Swain County (the main organized group against further road building), I'm delighted. However, $12.8 million is a long way from the agreed-upon total, and Park superintendent Dale Ditmansen (sp.?) threw a considerable wrench in the works when he seemed, after the long study and acceptance of a specific figure, to go back on his word.
I won't be satisfied, and the same holds true for most in Swain County, until the whole amount has been paid. Much of that rests in Heath Shuler's hands. I know him and know his father extremely well. He's a good man, even though we by no means see eye-to-eye politically, and I think he'll bring this to full fruition.
Meanwhile, anyone who loves wild places and lovely streams far from avenues of asphalt (and I think that's most everyone on this forum) has to be pleased.
To be sure, there is a highly vocal minority in Swain County who will continue to fight this tooth and nail. They have some validity to their arguments, because the government did go back on its 1943 promise, and there's no doubt whatsoever that Park assistance in visits to graves on Decoration Day has been less than first-rate. I might note that most of those folks despise the Park and cannot see all the wonders it preserved in perpetuity. They will never accept the monetary settlement and that's sad. On the other hand, others with Park roots (my father grew up in the Park and has actually contributed money to the Citizens for the Economic Future of Swain /County, and let me assure you when Dad, who knew poverty as a child and weather the depression as a young man, gives money, it's a cause he really supports) realize the Park has been a huge boon.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

JoeFred
12-18-2009, 10:01 AM
Jim, although I do not know Heath personally, I too believe he is a good man, as your father clearly must have been. I really like Bryson City and wish it the best.

JF

tjw37909
12-18-2009, 02:58 PM
Is "the road to nowhere" the road that just runs up in the park and stops on the other side of the dam? Will the road make better access for Hazel Creek?

old tom
12-18-2009, 03:12 PM
tjw37909 - I'm know there's a story behind that road too, but I can't recall what it is. It's not the infamous Road to Nowhere. The one referred to here runs from a couple miles outside of downtown Bryson City into the Park, where it ends at a tunnel much like you'd see on the Parkway. It's about 5 or 6 miles long once you pass the Park boundry.

tjw37909
12-18-2009, 03:42 PM
Will the road still lead to "nowhere" once they finish it?

old tom
12-18-2009, 04:30 PM
The road will not and should not be finished. It's as finished as it's ever going to be. That's my opinion and that of most folks familiar with the issue. If you don't know the story, here's a short recent article that gives the basics. http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues/12_09/12_02_09/out_naturalist.html

Jim Casada
12-18-2009, 05:23 PM
TJW--Old Tom has explained the two different roads, but let me clarify things a bit. Old Highway 288 served all of what is now the north shore of Fontana before the lake was flooded. The 1943 agreement was one to replace that road and give access to cemeteries. It wasn't for various reasons, built, but the "Road to Nowhere" was a start, constructed in the late 1950s, of that promised road.
Several things happened--money vanished, construction struck Anakeesta rock with all the porblems that poses, and environmentalists rightly became extremely concerned. The result is that the road hasn't been built. It never will be, and this money is a start towards making up for the broken 1943 promise.
Building it would have meant easier access to Hazel Creek (and Forney, Chambers, and Eagle creeks as well). That might seem good on the surface, but in my very strongly held opinion the opposite is actually the truth. The leaching from Anakeesta would be one problem, and a major one. Even bigger would be turning the whole world loose on a pristine area, one which has recovered from the ravages of the loggers, and destroying the whole nature of the backcountry experience. Yes, Hazel Creek would be easier to reach, but it would be like fishing along Highway 441. I for one don't want that.
Hope this clarifies things a bit. The matter has drawn national attention for years and is, as my previous post suggested, extremely contentious (to the point of very bitter feelings, some vandalism, fisticuffs, etc.) in Swain County.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

BlueRaiderFan
12-18-2009, 07:23 PM
I've been on this road. It's also known as my "career" :eek:

AKSkim
12-21-2009, 02:55 PM
After reading all this I come away with the thought that those people over in NC are just plain backwards.

Only thing missing is the banjo music in the background.

Speck Lover
12-21-2009, 03:28 PM
AKSkim,

While I do not live in Bryson City, I do live In the Southern Appalachian Mountain Region of North Carolina. I was born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina and darn proud of it. You are absolutely right about "those people over in NC are just plain backwards". However, most of them go back home after their mountain vacation in North Carolina is over. I kinda like "banjo music". :biggrin:

Jim Casada
12-21-2009, 03:45 PM
AKSkim--I'm not sure how you meant your statement, but as it interpret it (hopefully in the wrong fashion) I take great umbrage. I'm one of those people from "over in N. C." who, while no longer living in Swain County, grew up there. I'm tremendously proud of my mountain roots and would like to think, since I hold three college degrees including a Ph. D., that I'm not completely backward. I do, however, love fine banjo picking. More to the point, the folks of the region, at least those who have lived in the high country a long time, are absolute salt of the earth types. I trust them implicitly.

I would also point out that the Road to Nowhere issue has two distinct sides, and surely you can't lump both sides in the backward category.

I do feel that those who want the road built are wrongheaded and arguably backward looking, but I deeply respect their stance even as I strongly disagree with it. Being fixiated in the past (and I'm guilty to no small degree) in the sense of looking backward and being backward in a mental or sociological sense are two entirely different matters.

If I misunderstood your post I apologize, but as I read it the message seems full of opproprium. I'm also guessing there are others on this forum, some of them currently resident in western N. C., who will find it just as distressing as I do.

I'm hoping you were just being flippant or that you will clarify your post and leave me full of relief.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

BlueRaiderFan
12-21-2009, 04:11 PM
I'm not "backward," I prefer the term "Appalachian American." :biggrin:

Speck Lover
12-21-2009, 06:13 PM
I feel like I need to apologize for my statement in my previous post that stated "However, most of them go back home after their mountain vacation in North Carolina is over". It was a facetious statement not directed at any group personally. Tourism is the lifeblood of many of the mountain communities of east Tennessee and western North Carolina, and without it many areas would suffer or cease to exist. I have heard the Deliverance connotation for the past 37 years and I don't like it any better today than I did in 1972. I read somewhere one time that the movie Deliverance did more to cast a negative shadow on Southern Appalachia than any other single event. Are there cases of people being "backward" in the mountains of North Carolina? Absolutely! But it's not just confined to the mountains of North Carolina, it's everywhere! I get tickled when I reflect on the tourists who were coming through my area in the late 60's and 70's. Their standard statement was "I wouldn't live here for anything"! Then in the 80's, 90's, and today the standard statement is "I would give anything to live here"!

I hold no ill will against AKSkim, but like Mr. Casada, I do hope for a clarification. I have been around the good folks of Swain County a lot over the years, and they are as good a folks as you will ever come across anywhere.

old tom
12-21-2009, 06:42 PM
This is one of the problems with the internet. It's so easy to make a flipant remark, press send and it's there for all the world to see. Later you realize you really shouldn't have done that. Lord knows I've done it enough to know of which I speak. I'm sure AKSlim didn't mean it as it sounds.

The folks in Swain County that ride around with "Build the Road" stickers on their cars are not backwards. There are some smart and influential folks in that camp. Stubborn as a mule? Maybe yes. But backwards, no. It defies logic in my mind why they can't reconcile that the road will never be built and they are much better off channeling their energies to make sure Swain County gets the best monetary settlement possible.

The settlement number thrown around for years is $52 million. The county has an annual budget of something in the neighborhood of $15 million. It doesn't take too much to realize the financial impact the interest thrown off the investment of $52 million would mean to the county.

BlueRaiderFan
12-21-2009, 06:54 PM
Yeah, and if they invest it properly (instead of spending it like the government always does), they can draw off of it for years!

jeffnles1
12-21-2009, 06:56 PM
AKSkim--I'm not sure how you meant your statement, but as it interpret it (hopefully in the wrong fashion) I take great umbrage. I'm one of those people from "over in N. C." who, while no longer living in Swain County, grew up there. I'm tremendously proud of my mountain roots and would like to think, since I hold three college degrees including a Ph. D., that I'm not completely backward. I do, however, love fine banjo picking. More to the point, the folks of the region, at least those who have lived in the high country a long time, are absolute salt of the earth types. I trust them implicitly.

I would also point out that the Road to Nowhere issue has two distinct sides, and surely you can't lump both sides in the backward category.

I do feel that those who want the road built are wrongheaded and arguably backward looking, but I deeply respect their stance even as I strongly disagree with it. Being fixiated in the past (and I'm guilty to no small degree) in the sense of looking backward and being backward in a mental or sociological sense are two entirely different matters.

If I misunderstood your post I apologize, but as I read it the message seems full of opproprium. I'm also guessing there are others on this forum, some of them currently resident in western N. C., who will find it just as distressing as I do.

I'm hoping you were just being flippant or that you will clarify your post and leave me full of relief.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim,
Well said. While I'm not from North Carolina, my family is from the Appalachian region of South Eastern Kentucky.

Having 2 college degrees under my belt (Operations Management, Computer Science), I consider myself to be an over educated hillbilly.

I just get tired of ignorant people making uninformed stereotypical comments about my family and people like them and think it's OK when they would NEVER think of making the same type of comment about an inner city African American person.

'nuff said.

Jeff

ps. I'm not much of a banjo player, but I do play bluegrass on my Martin.

Jim Casada
12-21-2009, 08:27 PM
Old Tom--The key as far as the money goes is that it be conservatively invested and the principal left untouch; only the interest or a portion of the interest use. Even so, it will enable a county which has a very low tax base (most of Swain County is in the Park, under Fontana Lake, or in the Nantahala National Forest) to do a great deal. Swain has always been one of the poorest counties in the state, yet the high school consistently does very well in state rankings when it comes to things like SATs, percentage of students going to college, and the like. I can say without hestation that I received a solid high school education (and it would have been better had I been a bit more assiduous in my studies!) and little has changed.
As for the "Build the Road" folks and their bumper stickers, one of the cardinal characeristics of mountain folks is deeply ingrained stubborness. I'm sufficiently introspective to plead guilty on that count, but obstinancy and pride stand in the way of some decent folks and staunch citizens being willing to accept the inevitable truth--the road will not be built. I've written to that effect, vitually pleading for realization that the forces against the road and the issue itself are far, far bigger than Swain County, but they fall on deaf ears.

A solid case in point was my dear fishing buddy, the late Frank Young. He persisted in bringing up the road issue almost every time we were together, knowing even as he did that my opposition to it was as adamant as his desire to see it built. Finally I said: "Frank you'll never change my mind and I'll never change yours. For the sake of friendship, why don't we just drop it?" He said nothing for the longest time, then replied: "You are right." We never talked about it again.
But there are folks like Frank who insist on bringing it up and fighting it, including one county councilman, David Monteith, who simply will not listen to others. I don't understand either, but even if all the money is finally allotted the issue won't totally die.
It's actually sad, but mountain folks can be inordinately stubborn and proud.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

sammcdonald
12-21-2009, 08:54 PM
jim,
amen,
sam

AKSkim
12-22-2009, 11:03 AM
Granted before any of this was ever posted on this site I had no idea of this “Road to No Where.” It could have been another Bob Hope - Bing Crosby movie for alls I know.

But after reading comments like;

… anyone who loves wild places and lovely streams far from avenues of asphalt (and I think that's most everyone on this forum)… Oh you got my vote on that. But I would also like the government to keep MY money out those peoples hands. Just another HANDOUT.


They have some validity to their arguments, because the government did go back on its 1943 promise… ... and yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus.

… where it ends at a tunnel. Gotta laugh at that one don't we boys. I do have to ask.. doesn't a "tunnel" have two openings?

As someone who has long advocated the monetary settlement on the Road to Nowhere issue…

After reading this I couldn't help but picturing the Swain County Moron Society upon hearing that at their annual luncheon tapping the sides of their bowls with their spoons in approval.

Oh.. few more items.

Speck Lover; the banjo comment, my first choice was about the people in NC who practice home dentistry, I just figured the banjo was much more loved in that part of the country than their teeth.

Jeff; your “I just get tired of ignorant people making uninformed stereotypical comments about my family and people like them and think it's OK when they would NEVER think of making the same type of comment about an inner city African American person.” post, well I think you and your friends have more to say about that at your weekly Saturday night cross burnings than I do.

I just love it when someone throws in their education.. like I am to drop on the floor. I have seen all the education advertisements in the back of the airline magazines, but I haven’t yet seen one for a PhD in common sense.

That is something you all are missing out on.

Remember the world has changed a lot since 1943, and if you are so up set at the “promise” made during WW2… guess you haven’t been paying any attention what any politician has promised the American People since.

Now let's get back to talking about fishing in The Great Smoky Mountains.

Tiger fly
12-22-2009, 11:32 AM
!sdrawkcab ton era elpoep niatnuom sU

Ha! One side of my family is from southeastern KY. The other side is from wester KY so I guess I'm kinda evened out.

Speck Lover
12-22-2009, 01:05 PM
Speck Lover; the banjo comment, my first choice was about the people in NC who practice home dentistry, I just figured the banjo was much more loved in that part of the country than their teeth.
I've practiced a little "home dentistry" over the years. I'll tell you what, if you EVER have any teeth that need to come out, PLEASE let me know. I'd be more than happy to take them out for you free of charge. It sounds like you have several that need to come out QUICKLY. Merry Christmas. :biggrin:

BlueRaiderFan
12-22-2009, 01:27 PM
Good grief. :rolleyes: "I acted like a jerk and started a bunch of crap", my solution: insult them even more.


nice...I've recevied warnings for much less. MODERATOR! lol

Jim Casada
12-22-2009, 01:38 PM
AKSim--Sir, I am deeply disappointed in your response. I thought your original post was either offered in jest or, more likely, that I had misinterpreted it. That's why I asked for a clarification and suggested I probably had misunderstood. Alas, such is clearly not the case, because your response, far from being a clarification, is mean and demeaning.

Yes, I did mention my education, something I seldom do because my degrees have little to do with my background as an angler. Yet in this case I brought up college degrees, as did one or two others, simply because you suggested we were backward. I make no apology for the degrees I hold and I suspect most anyone who finished college feels the same. A degree does serve as one bellwether of intellectual achievement.

Beyond that, you are flat-out wrong in a number of ways. The road does indeed terminate at the end of a tunnel. The 1943 Argeement wasn't a mere political promise as you seem to assume. As the word agreement rightly suggests, it was a written contract. The monetary settlement is a way of settling a contractual agreement without wreaking environmental havoc by building a road. Such mistakes on your part can, however, be excused and explained as coming from a lack of in-depth knowledge on the issue (which you admit).

What I find totally unacceptable and shameful are your other comments, and unfortunately they confirm my original taking of umbrage even as I had hoped it was misinterpretation. Surely it is wrong and flat-out nasty to speak of a "Swain County Moron Society," derisively refer to N. C. mountain folks practicing home dentistry and liking their banjos more than their teeth, throw out a gratuitous comment about a forum member being involved in weekly Saturday night cross burnings, etc. Those sort of personal and pejorative comments have no place on this forum or anywhere else.

Finally, you seem to suggest that the original post was inappropriate because it has nothing to do with fishing (you say "let's get back to talking about fishing"). Quite the opposite is the case. The threat that this road would be finished has long posed a huge danger to the well-being of some of the finest and most treasured of all Park streams.

I've had all I will have to say on this matter, but I don't take at all kindly to anyone suggesting that the folks where I grew up are backward or morons. I suspect others will be similarly disappointed in the tenor and tone of your comments.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

flyman
12-22-2009, 01:40 PM
Merry Christmas everybody. What are ya'll getting? I'm getting a home dentistry kit, a gallon of moonshine, and a banjo. :biggrin:

The Principal
12-22-2009, 01:57 PM
I already have the Moonshine and a Mandolin instead of a Banjo.
I have a huge dislike of denistry , home or otherwise and therefore
will not participate in that. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

Paula Begley
12-22-2009, 02:04 PM
Just a friendly reminder...think of the tone of your comments, and how they could be read by others, before you post them. This applies to everyone and is not directed at anyone in particular.

For those of you who have attempted to keep this humorous, thanks. Everyone else? Step away from the keyboard...it's the holidays. :D:D :D;)

Merry Christmas to you all.

Paula

Thread closed until the first of the year.