Abandoned tunnel story connects to underwater ghost town in North Carolina :: WRAL.com

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There are many ghost towns and forgotten places hidden in the ancient rolling mountains of North Carolina. Decaying houses of decades past can be found along many winding hiking trails – ghost towns in the truest sense.

The area around Bryson City has many remnants of towns that were long gone – the abandoned ghost town of Proctor, hidden deep in the woods of the Smoky Mountains, and the forgotten town of Judson, hidden under the waves of Lake Fontana. .

As the drivers leave Bryson City, there is a strange stretch of road, marked with a warning sign that says “Welcome to the Road to Nowhere: A Promise Broken! 1943 -?”

The road winds for about 6-7 miles through the magnificent Smoky Mountains, suddenly ending in a dark tunnel, surrounded by tall grass and decaying fences. If you are crossing, bring a flashlight. The tunnel is longer than it looks.

The road, as the name suggests, leads nowhere. It ends against a mountain wall, where a hiking trail begins.

Sadly, on the other side of this “road to nowhere” are the ancestral homes and family cemeteries of many who live in Swain County.

The Road to Nowhere and the surrounding ghost towns date back to the same story – the time when a promise was broken.

The "Road to nowhere" near Bryson City, NC is a 10 mile mountain road that ends in a tunnel leading to nowhere.

Flood ancestral lands to build an atomic bomb

The history of Road to Nowhere dates back to the 1940s, when the federal government had to build a dam to generate electrical power for the war efforts of World War II.

The Fontana Dam still exists today, an iconic monument for tourists and travelers. However, the enormous Fontana Lake hides an entire city beneath its waves – the City of Judson.

Sometimes when the lake is drained or the water levels are very low, people say you can see the tops of the tallest structures, still standing under Lake Fontana.

The "Road to nowhere" near Bryson City, NC is a 10 mile mountain road that ends in a tunnel leading to nowhere.

Thousands of acres have been inundated – and for thousands of acres people have left their ancestral homes and moved away. Many have not even demolished their homes; they left them where they were standing, hoping they could come back one day.

Many families have also left behind precious family cemeteries and can no longer visit loved ones unless they take a boat across Lake Fontana or take a long hike through the wilderness that has devoured ghost towns.

To ensure that these families do not lose access to their homes, ancestral lands and graves, the federal government has promised to create a road. It was supposed to be about 30 miles, but they only built 6 miles and a tunnel.

Many people in Swain County are still angry at the government’s “broken promise”. They feel they have sacrificed heavily for the war effort – an effort that contributed to the creation of the atomic bomb – to be forgotten and cut off from their former homeland.

The "Road to nowhere" near Bryson City, NC is a 10 mile mountain road that ends in a tunnel leading to nowhere.

Why has the road to nowhere not been completed?

To allow displaced families continued access to their family lands and graves, the government has promised to build a road from Bryson City to Deals Gap, following the course of the river that can be seen flowing below Road to Nowhere. .

The road passes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, allowing the “Road to Nowhere” and the tunnel to be still visited by tourists and hikers today.

From the time the road was promised in the 1940s, only about 6 miles of road were built in the 1970s. Citing environmental concerns, construction was halted.

From the 1970s to the 2010s, the unfinished road was a sore spot for families in Swain County, some of whom have caught organizing boat trips and strenuous hikes through the woods to find their old homes and family graves.

In 2018, the US Department of the Interior finally closed an agreed payment of $ 52 million in Swain County instead of completing the road, ending the 70-year saga.


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