SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) is hoping to restore a historic place in East Tennessee.
The park entered to win a $250,000 grant from Partners in Preservation (PIP) for the Clingmans Dome Tower. The park would like to preserve the tower which is located on the North Carolina-Tennessee line.
“Clingmans Dome is a special treasure for the people of North Carolina and Tennessee,” said Friends of the Smokies President Jim Hart. “Visitors from all over the world flock to this iconic tower and with everyone’s help, we can preserve this magnificent structure for generations to come.”
It is the highest point in the national park and in the state of Tennessee at 6,643 feet. The tower has been a destination for visitors since 1959. Visitors are able to see 100 miles of the park’s scenery. Over 600,000 people drive on Clingmans Dome Road between April and November, according to GSMNP.
“Without the tower it would be treed over and you would not have these views and you wouldn’t be able to experience it,” said Dianne Flaugh, Cultural Resources Program Manager. “The longer it is before we can start making these repairs, the more likely it will cost us a lot more and potentially cause us to have to close the tower for more extended periods of time.”
However, work is needed at the location. Four inches of the foundation needs to be fixed to prevent future settlement and structural repair. Also, the stone masonry walls, concrete structure and flagstone terrace are deteriorating.
It is still structurally safe for visitors, but without needed repairs will only continue to deteriorate over time.
“The support of private organizations has been essential to our efforts to care for the places that convey our nation’s history and culture since the creation of the National Park System 100 years ago,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The 2016 Partners in Preservation campaign is a strong symbol of our partners’ continued dedication to ensure that these special places are preserved and protected for future generations of Americans.”
Lovers of the Smokies can help the park win the grant by voting daily at VoteYourPark.org. Voting ends on July 5.
An open house will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19, at Clingman’s Dome. Click here to learn more.