RWR Day 17 – Love Little Switzerland

Celebration at Gillespie Gap
Celebration at Gillespie Gap

I was overwhelmed with the support of so many people today. Steve Simmons came again to run 8 miles, and his wife Nancy was a joy to meet as well. Blue Ridge Parkway personnel, including folks from the Minerals Museum, came up the hill to greet me as I came though--that was awesome! Rhonda has been by my side for days--could not do this without her. And Marc Bowen came up from Morganton and bicycled the entire 20 miles with me--leading me through tunnels and just being a great help to get me through another tough day. Thanks so much to everyone!

Day 17 Run

The run started just north of Milepost 320. After a half-mile climb, we generally had a descent to Gillespie Gap (Minerals Museum) where Hwy 226 crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then came the work, about 1200 feet of climb finally ending at the Crabtree Falls entrance.

It was one great view after another across Linn Cove. But eventually an occasional view South let me know Mt Mitchell was looming. I was pretty beat by the time we reached Crabtree Falls entrance, just north of Milepost 340. Here are the details...

Photos and Video

The App Ortho Photo of the Day

Table Rock peeking over the top.
Table Rock peeking over the top.

We placed 20 or so photos on From BRPWeather.Com, zoom the Google Map into the area around Little Switzerland to see our photos. By the way, you can upload your photos to also; just click on the Photo link and follow the process--it's quick and easy!

We made several videos today: 1) The Start, 2) Being greeted by BRP Personnel at Gillespie Gap, 3) Running through the Little Switzerland Tunnel, and 4) The End.

Location Information

Big Lynn Lodge
Big Lynn Lodge

Again tonight, we are enjoying the hospitality of Hoyt Johnson and his staff at Big Lynn Lodge. On this journey, we have stay in many different types of accommodations. We love this place--a night's lodging includes dinner and breakfast in the price of the room. It's a motor lodge in the 50s and 60s style. It's authentic, comfortable, and unassuming. The staff could not be more friendly, and the location is simply beautiful.

We also had great sandwiches for lunch at Switzerland Cafe and General Store.

Parkway Attractions and History

Planning this adventure, I read two book on the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway and intended to share tidbits of that history along the way. The reality of time pressure (running, writing, editing videos, uploading content, travel, and taking care of my body between runs) has not allowed me to do as much "history" as I wanted. But tonight with the assistance of Marc Bowen, I'll give you several items for this area...

Apple Orchard at Altapass

Apple Orchard at Altapass
Apple Orchard at Altapass
My words could never describe the Apple Orchard like Bill Carson in this Ted Talk. It's well worth your time.

Minerals Museum

Minerals Museum
Minerals Museum
 An exert from the 
"The Museum of North Carolina Minerals features interactive displays about the minerals and gems found in the region as well as the historical importance of the mining industry to the local economy.

The Museum also hosts a visitor center for the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce, with information on local businesses, attractions, lodging, food and more. A gift shop featuring souvenirs and books on Western North Carolina is located in the museum."

The Overmountain Men (from Marc Bowen)

Today's section of the BRP included two crossings of the Overmountain Men in 1780 as they made their way to the Battle at Kings Mountain which according to Thomas Jefferson proclaimed as “the turn of the tide of success” in America’s fight for independence from Great Britain. These “overmountain” men were not part of George Washington’s Continental army.  These men were hunters, farmers whose domestic enemy were Native Americans and the elements of living in the high country.  
But they knew all too well from their mostly Scots, Irish, and Welsh decent the omen of living under British rule so when British Major Patrick Ferguson issued the threat to these mountain men "If you do not desist your opposition to the British Arms, I shall march this army over the mountains, hang your leaders, and lay waste your country with fire and sword.”  That was all it took to get 900+ angry men to swarm from the high country and win a decisive victory at Kings Mountain which led to ultimate surrender of British forces at Yorktown, VA a little more than a year later.
Author Randell Jones published a more detailed narrative on this pivotal battle here:
Next time you are in the area, stop by the NPS Minerals Museum and ask any of the staff for more information and brochures.
You can even walk in the footsteps to freedom on a portion of the certified trail where the Overmountain Men traveled en route to the battle. In the spirit of the Overmountain Men offered at a time of celebration, a hearty HUZZA!!! to Ray for posting this information.
Be sure to visit the Overmountain Victory Trail Association’s (OVTA) website

Little Switzerland Resort

Little Switzerland resort was purchased by Heriot Clarkson and several business partners in 1909. A train stop was was relocated to about two miles away, and a toll road was built from the station to Little Switzerland. The resort was divided into lots for cottages, water and sewer lines were established, and the Little Switzerland Inn opened for business in 1910. Clarkson built a General Store and Post Office in 1911. Even a phone line was installed in 1912. Construction of other facilities continued through 1930 including Kilmichael Tower (an observation tower) and a road from Marion to Little Switzerland.

When the Blue Ridge Parkway was approved through Western North Carolina between Linville and Cherokee in 1935, it was initially viewed as a great opportunity to increase traffic in Clarkson's resort. However, the concept quickly soured with the NPS's demand of a 1000-foot right of way and the price of offered for the right of way. A lawsuit followed. Clarkson won the suit in Mitchell County Superior Court but the case was appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Interestingly, Clarkson was a member of the NC Supreme Court. The Courts decision was split 3-3 with Clarkson recusing himself which allowed the lower court ruling to stand. The settlement gave Clarkson one of the highest amounts paid for land acquisition at the time and reduced the right of way to 200'. 

For a detailed description of the controversy, see Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History by Anne Mitchell Whisnant.


"Epic" is too strong a word to describe tomorrow's run, but it will be the second most difficult thus far. After a relatively flat 6 miles, we're headed up... a lot... to 5686 feet on the side of Mount Mitchell. The starting elevation is 3655 feet, a net gain of over 2000' and a total gain of 4183'. The Day 18 will be tough and ends in the middle of nowhere. Here's a link to the plan...

7 Comments on “RWR Day 17 – Love Little Switzerland

  1. Glad to hear you had continued enthusiastic company on the run today. Looking forward to hearing about your assault on the highest peak in the Appalachians and the highest in the eastern continental US – we’re with you as you conquer Mt. Mitchell tomorrow, Ray!

    1. I think you are looking at a part of a mile. Sometimes I get fooled when I look at the data also. The pace is right of the actual time column.

      1. Don’t think so. From the webpage, near the bottom where it gives the stats, it says:

        2:04 min/mi
        Best Pace


        1. Look at the mile splits. They tell the story. The GPS does goofy stuff when it can’t get a signal (tree canopy, next to rock cliffs, and in tunnels). That gives false speeds for a few seconds (both exaggerated high and low). The number you are looking at is never a reliable measure. Those false highs and lows usually even out over the mile splits to a reasonable estimate of speed.

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