There are 26 tunnels along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 25 in North Carolina with it’s rugged terrain and one in Virginia.
Tunnels were constructed (as opposed to cutting in to the mountain sides) to avoid excessive landscape scarring along what was to be one of America’s most scenic roads.
The construction was done in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) using primarily manual labor. Purposefully, very little machinery was used during construction to create sorely needed unskilled labor jobs during the economic downturn of the Great Depression. What they didn’t have in machinery, the CCC made up for by tunneling with truck-mounted water-cooled compressed air drills called “Jumbos”. After the initial holes were drilled, dynamite was used for blasting away the rock.
Cave-ins plagued construction and builders ultimately decided to add solid concrete linings to strengthen the interior of the tunnels. Over time, unintended benefits to the tunnel lining emerged such as the elimination of moisture entering the tunnel removing ice problems during the winter and the fact that the lighter tone of the concrete (as opposed to the dark mountain rock) made the tunnels brighter during the day and more reflective at night.
The distinctive stone masonry portals on the Parkway tunnels are generally not part of the original construction of the 1930s.
|Milepost||Tunnel Name||Length (feet)||Maximum Height||Minimum Height||Interesting Fact|
|53.1||Bluff Mountain||630||19 feet 1 inch||13 feet 7 inches||Bluff Mountain Tunnel, is the only tunnel in Virginia.|
|333.4||Little Switzerland||542||19 feet 8 inches||14 feet 4 inches|
|336.4||Wildacres||330||19 feet 10 inches||13 feet 1 inch|
|344.6||Twin #1 (North)||300||21 feet||16 feet|
|344.7||Twin #2 (South)||401||19 feet 7 inches||14 feet 7 inches|
|349.0||Rough Ridge||150||21 feet 6 inches||13 feet 9 inches|
|364.4||Craggy Pinnacle||245||19 feet 9 inches||14 feet 1 inch|
|365.6||Craggy Flats||400||19 feet 5 inches||14 feet 4 inch|
|374.4||Tanbark Ridge||780||19 feet 5 inches||14 feet 1 inch|
|397.1||Grassy Knob||770||19 feet 2 inches||13 feet 7 inches|
|399.1||Pine Mountain||1434||19 feet 3 inches||14 feet 2 inches||The Pine Mountain Tunnel is the longest on the Parkway.|
|400.9||Ferrin Knob #1||561||19 feet 6 inches||14 feet 2 inches||Ferrin Knob Tunnel #1 is the first and longest of the tunnels, referred to as 'triplet tunnels' because of their rapid succession with little daylight between. The name of these tunnels was derived from the local pronunciation of the word 'ferns' as 'ferrins'.|
|401.3||Ferrin Knob #2||421||19 feet 2 inches||14 feet|
|401.5||Ferrin Knob #3||375||19 feet 5 inches||13 feet 9 inches|
|403.0||Young Pisgah Ridge||412||19 feet 8 inches||14 feet 6 inches|
|403.9||Fork Mountain||389||19 feet 2 inches||14 feet|
|406.9||Little Pisgah||576||19 feet 5 inches||13 feet 10 inches|
|407.4||Buck Springs||462||19 feet 2 inches||13 feet 8 inches|
|410.1||Frying Pan||577||19 feet 9 inches||13 feet 8 inches|
|422.1||Devil's Courthouse||665||19 feet||14 feet 2 inches||The Devil's Courthouse Tunnel received the first concrete lining.|
|439.7||Pinnacle Ridge||813||19 feet 1 inch||13 feet 10 inches|
|458.8||Lickstone Ridge||402||18 feet 1 inch||11 feet 1 inch|
|459.3||Bunches Bald||255||18 feet 4 inches||10 feet 6 inches|
|461.2||Big Witch||348 feet||18 feet 1 inch (5.5 m)||11 feet 3 inches|
|465.6||Rattlesnake Mountain||395||19 feet 6 inches||14 feet 5 inches|
|466.3||Sherrill Cove No. 6||550||19 feet 7 inches||14 feet 4 inches|