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86th Anniversary of the “Goodwill Tour”

June 9, 2015

by Albert Gordon Roth

Photo by Albert Gordon Roth, courtesy of University of Tennessee Digital Library

On June 9, 1929, staff from the Knoxville News Sentinel​ and the Asheville Citizen-Times​ met on top of Clingmans Dome at a wooden surveyors tower as part of a “Goodwill Tour” between the two states. Over the highest point on the mountain, letters from the Governors of North Carolina and Tennessee were exchanged, celebrating what would become Great Smoky Mountains National Park​.

Tennessee governor Harry Horton wrote, “Nothing is closer to the heart of Tennessee than the consummation and preservation of this great National Park in all its unrivaled beauty.. [to] the honor of both states and … the nation and an inspiration for … generations.”

North Carolina governor Max Gardner wrote, “How intriguing it is that the greetings of the governors of Tennessee and North Carolina should be exchanged on the state line in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area, in a marvelous primeval wilderness and on the Dome of one of the highest peaks in eastern America! … North Carolina and Tennessee have this great mountain treasure in common. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park movement was successful because of the visions and the public-spirited enterprises on the part of the citizens of our two states.”

Clingmans Tower

Today, you can climb to the top of Clingmans Dome on a much easier route. The paved trail from the parking lot to the observation tower is a steep climb, but only 1/2 mile long. When you make it to the top, you are afforded a 360-degree view of these two states, joined forever in goodwill by our spectacular national park.

Photo by Chris Hatfield

Photo by Chris Hatfield