Grandfather Mountain sign collapses during windstorm Sunday
by Allison Haver
After nearly 60 years, the
iconic Grandfather Mountain sign collapsed early on Sunday, as high winds struck the High Country.
A weather station at the Mile High
Swinging Bridge recorded hurricane-force winds throughout Saturday night with gusts as high as 92.5
mph, according to a press release sent by Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
For more than half a century, the large wooden sign, located at the intersection of U.S. 221 and N.C. 105, pointed visitors to "Carolina's Top Scenic Attraction," a tagline coined by the late Hugh Morton, who owned Grandfather Mountain from 1952 to 2006.
Architect Charles Hartman, who also designed the Mile High Swinging Bridge, designed the structure, which was constructed in the late 1950s. The pond surrounding the sign was built at the same time.
"The sign was an icon in North Carolina's travel industry," said Harris Prevost, vice president of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation in a release. "It was pure Americana -- 1950s all the way. We are sorry to see this piece of history lost forever."
"On the other hand, the sign was old and fragile. Many of the wooden boards were rotting. It was a matter of time before it would have had to come down," Prevost said.
Originally painted in vivid yellow and green, the sign was repainted in 2006 in tan and brown to better coordinate with the color scheme of the Linville Golf Club and Eseeola Lodge. The historic sign was scheduled to be replaced in 2015.
The land where the sign sat is owned by Linville Resorts, with Grandfather Mountain responsible for the sign upkeep and mowing.
Grandfather Mountain plans to keep and maintain a similar sign at the Tynecastle intersection of N.C. 184 and N.C. 105 for as long as possible. That structure is in better condition because it is more protected from the wind and elements.
The Mountain will remove the fallen sign as soon as possible.
"We are touched by the outpouring of sympathy about our losing the sign," Prevost said.
"For many, many people, the Linville sign is all they have known at that intersection. There is a lot of nostalgia associated with the sign."