John Rockefeller Jr. had already catalyzed creation of a national park at Acadia in Maine, and set events in motion for another at Grand Teton in Wyoming, when in 1928 he offered $5 million (about half the total needed) to purchase land for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that now straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee border. With additional contributions from the two states, the cities of Asheville and Knoxville, $2 million from the federal government, and contributions from thousands of private citizens, 6,600 separate plots were painstakingly assembled, and about a decade later the National Park opened. Today it includes 700 miles of fishable streams, 800 miles of trails including a long section of the Appalachian Trail, abundant wildlife, magnificent trees like a yellow buckeye more than 19 feet in circumference, and artifacts of pioneer life. It is America’s most visited national park, with more than 9 million annual guests.
- Michael Frome, Strangers in High Places: The Story of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (University of Tennessee Press, 1966)