Bryson City, North Carolina: Road to NowherePromised in 1943 and still not finished. Monetary settlement reached with the government in 2010, but no one plans to remove the vestiges of a dream highway.
- 8899 New Fontana Rd, Bryson City, NC
- Take US Hwy 74 to exit 67 (Bryson City Exit, turn right onto Veteran's Blvd. At the 1st light turn right onto Main St. To Next light turn Left onto Everett St. Go straight for about 6-7 miles. you will pass the Swain county High school and keep going until you go into the Great Smokey Mtns Nat'l Park and until you cross the bridge "Nolands Creek" up to the parking area next to the barricade. Walk 1/4 mile through the tunnel and to the end of the road.
Visitor Tips and News About Road to Nowhere
Our family visited the Road to Nowhere, and it is a strange experience. Out of the way, and a definite drive to get there (you don't find it by accident). You park your car, then walk down a deserted road. Walking through the tunnel was a bit nerve-wracking. You come out the other side and the road just disappears into the forest. It was very peaceful and beautiful -- so much so that it makes you relieved that the road wasn't finished and that the forest remains intact.
My boys and hubby hiked up the large hill to sit on top of the tunnel. Got some cool pics.[Bonnie Cantrell, 01/25/2015]
My wife and I checked this out on a recent trip. It was amazing to walk through a traffic tunnel, built about 40 years earlier, that has never seen a car, and is now deteriorating! It's feels like being a science fiction movie. The drive to the end of the road has some beautiful views of Fontana Lake.
Although this is presented as a "broken promise," that's a rather slanted view. While building the road, they ran into acidic minerals in the ground. Disturbing this would release acid and kill everything growing there and pollute the watershed. That's why they stopped building the road.[Roger, 11/25/2012]
Accidentally found "The Road to Nowhere" while I was visiting Bryson City. I have always heard about this road, however didn't really know where it was. It was cold and rainy as I was driving on this winding road... but it was still beautiful yet lonely. When I came to the end of the road, I got out of my car and walked a little ways up toward the tunnel. I turned around since I was by myself -- however I want to come back and explore this again soon. It is so sad that the Gov. did not keep its promise to the good citizens that was forced to leave. They should make this right![Lisa, 02/19/2012]
Swain County and the Federal Government reached a money settlement. So, the road to nowhere will remain.[Tom Taylor, 02/17/2012]
According to several news accounts, the legal settlement on the 1943 agreement to replace Hwy 288 finally occurred in early 2010. The National Park Service is paying Swain County $52 million over a ten year period (what a replacement road today would cost). The Road to Nowhere will just exist as an infrastructure oddity...
The Road to Nowhere was promised to the citizens of Swain county during World War II when the government needed a dam to power the Alcoa Aluminum factories to build airplanes for the war. The waters of the new lake covered major sections of NC HWY 288. The government made everyone leave that lived on high ground, whether they wanted to or not, taking over 44,000 acres of people's land. There are family cemeteries all over that area, as well as a town site called "Proctor" on Hazel Creek.
Swain county has been fighting for over 60 year to get the road completed. It would go from the tunnel to Fontana Dam and tie into NC HWY 28. My family was one of those displaced by the project and the family's home site is on Nolands Creek 3 miles from the lake. I would love to have this road finished.
Honor the 1943 Agreement and build the road.[Micheal Stephenson, 04/16/2008]