Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced today that it is participating in Partners in Preservation (PIP), a community-based partnership of American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places, which is embarking on its first national campaign in the program’s 10-year history. In honor of the National Park Service’s Centennial, the 2016 Partners in Preservation: National Parks campaign will award $2 million in grants to historic sites in need of preservation within national parks units, as decided by popular vote.
As one of 20 historic places selected, Great Smoky Mountains National Park hopes to be one of the winners of the campaign to help Clingmans Dome Tower. Straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee state line at 6,643 feet, the Clingmans Dome Tower is a prominent landmark and destination as the highest point in the park. Annually, over 600,000 people travel Clingmans Dome Road between April and November to reach the Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station and half mile trail to the tower.
“Please vote daily to help us win the challenge that will enable us to preserve one of most unique experiences in in the park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “With these funds, we can help ensure that people have the opportunity to walk to the top of the Great Smokies and take in the view from this historic tower.”
The structure is a precedent-setting design of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program, which transformed park planning, management, and architecture and fundamentally altered the visitor experience in national parks. Since 1959, millions of visitors have climbed the tower, where they can see distances of up to 100 miles over the surrounding mountains and valleys. A $250,000 grant would preserve the tower and ensure that visitors continue to experience this unique structure spiraling up from the highest point in the park.
“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.”
The tower remains structurally strong, but rehabilitation is needed to correct up to four inches of foundation settlement which is causing an uneven force on the structure. By correcting this now, the work can halt further settlement and prevent the need for more extensive structural repair in the future. Preservation maintenance is also needed to address general deterioration conditions along the stone masonry walls, concrete structure, and flagstone terrace.
The public is encouraged to vote daily today through July 5 on VoteYourPark.org, the online portal hosted by National Geographic, this year’s media partner, to determine which sites will receive preservation grants. The public is also invited to share their experiences on social media and celebrate these sites using #VoteYourPark.
“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.”
The public can get involved by visiting savingplaces.org/partners-in-preservation for more information and voting daily through July 5 at VoteYourPark.org. For more information about the Clingmans Dome Tower, please visit he park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm.