Newfound Gap

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Newfound Gap
Revised Rockefeller Memorial at Newfound Gap IMG 5140.JPG
Rockefeller Memorial at Newfound Gap
Elevation 5,048 ft (1,539 m)
Traversed by Newfound Gap Road
Location Swain County, North Carolina / Sevier County, Tennessee,  United States
Range Great Smoky Mountains
Tourists pack Newfound Gap on a summer Sunday afternoon.
Highway sign at Newfound Gap
Newfound Gap landslide, January 16, 2013

Newfound Gap (el. 5048 ft./1539 m.) is a mountain pass located near the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States of America. Situated along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the state line crosses the gap, as does Newfound Gap Road (which becomes U.S. Highway 441 at the park boundaries near Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina). The Appalachian Trail also traverses the gap, as do a small number of other hiking trails.

Newfound Gap is also home to the Rockefeller Memorial, a popular destination within the national park and the site from where former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt formally dedicated the park on September 2, 1940[1]

According to the National Weather Service, Newfound Gap has around 19 snowy days per year, comparable to 18 at Minneapolis, Minnesota. From 1991 to 2005, annual snowfall ranged from 43.5 inches (110 cm) to 106 inches (270 cm).[2]

History[edit]

Prior to the development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Newfound Gap was an undiscovered pass two miles east of what was long thought to be the lowest mountain pass over the Great Smoky Mountains, Indian Gap.[3] Indian Gap Road, an unpaved, arduous trail frequented by traders, farmers, and even by the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, was completed in 1839 and named after the old Cherokee Indian trail that the road paralleled. Newfound Gap itself was not recognized as the lowest gap in over the mountains until 1872, when Arnold Guyot measured many of the mountains in the area and determined the "Newfound Gap" to be a lower, more accessible mountain pass.

Newfound Gap Road[edit]

With the development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park came the construction of a newer, more modern highway from Tennessee to North Carolina, completed in 1932 – this time crossing Newfound Gap, replacing the now-defunct Indian Gap Road. North of the park, it is now known as Great Smoky Mountains Parkway. The Gatlinburg Bypass, originally intended to be a part of the Foothills Parkway, extends out from the park to connect Newfound Gap Road south of town to the parkway north of town.

Despite its heavy winter snows, the pass is kept open all year, except during and just after winter storms. When closed, the snow route is a long detour around the east-northeast end of the park, using U.S. 321 and Interstate 40. The Tennessee side typically has heavier snow because of its north and northwestern exposure. Even when valley roads are clear and there is little snow in Gatlinburg (and almost none in Cherokee), Newfound Gap may have far deeper snow, and will be closed for several hours after significant snowfall ends. Additionally, being in a national park, Newfound Gap Road is only treated by snowplows and a gravel-sand mix, as no chemicals can be used for snow removal due to their harm to the environment.

The road was closed for days after the Great Blizzard of 1993, when 5 feet (1.5 m) of snow fell, and snowdrifts piled up to twice that.

The National Park Service closed Newfound Gap Road near mile marker 22 on January 16, 2013, due to a landslide on the Cherokee, North Carolina side. The area received significant rain, causing the road to wash out. The road is still accessible to Newfound Gap from Gatlinburg, Tennessee.[4] On April 15, the section of road opened back up a month ahead of schedule.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.nps.gov/grsm/gsmsite/welcome.html
  2. ^ http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mrx/skywarn/awareness/wwaw2008.pdf
  3. ^ "The New Blue Ridge Highlander". Theblueridgehighlander.com. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  4. ^ National Park Service, Public Affairs Office. "Newfound Gap Road Closed Due to Landslide". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-01-16. 

Media related to Newfound Gap at Wikimedia Commons Coordinates: 35°36′40″N 83°25′30″W / 35.61111°N 83.42500°W / 35.61111; -83.42500