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The Blue Ridge Parkway

<p>The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic two-lane highway that follows the crest of the Appalachian Mountains from southwestern North Carolina to central Virginia. Part of the greater Appalachian Mountain range, the iconic Blue Ridge Mountains were uplifted from the Earth&rsquo;s crust over one-billion years ago. These rugged mountains were once sparsely inhabited and rarely visited for recreation. Today, thanks in-part to the Blue Ridge Parkway, millions are able to enjoy the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains every year &ndash; relishing long-range vistas from the comfort of their own vehicles or stopping to explore countless hiking trails that adjoin this picturesque mountain byway. Whether it&rsquo;s the vibrant pink Rhododendron bloom in June or the blazing fall colors that blanket the mountains every fall, each winding curve along the Blue Ridge Parkway unveils a unique Appalachian display that will take your breath away.</p> <p>Residents of Ashe County and the surrounding area are blessed to have one of the most scenic roads in the world right in their backyard. Twenty of the Parkway&rsquo;s 469 miles either border or pass directly through Ashe County, and area residents are a short drive from some of the most renowned sections of the entire road. The Mountains to the Sea Trail, an epic footpath that traverses North Carolina, parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway though Ashe County. Julian Price Park, Grandfather Mountain, E.B. Jeffress Park, Moses Cone Manor, and Doughton Park are a few additional nearby options that are sure to inspire a sense of awe and appreciation for the majestic Appalachian Mountains and their rich history.</p> <p>In the years of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) group in Virginia as they worked to complete Skyline Drive through the recently established Shenandoah National Park. Around one year before Roosevelt&rsquo;s visit, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was also founded in the mountains of western North Carolina. With the automobile becoming an increasingly common mode of transportation, visitors flocked from broader areas to visit both scenic parks &ndash; perhaps turning to nature to escape the day-to-day stresses that affected nearly everyone who lived through the 1930s. Roosevelt aptly envisioned a scenic highway to connect these two iconic national parks.</p> <p>Not only was the Parkway a unique idea to connect two national parks, but also a means to put thousands of Americans back to work. Skilled engineers, architects, landscape architects, private contractors, and many more with a willingness to work suffered from widespread unemployment &ndash; their valuable skills left unused. Families, especially in rural Appalachia, were particularly hard-hit. Thus, for more reasons than one, the idea for our cherished &ldquo;Appalachian Scenic Highway&rdquo; (later to be renamed Blue Ridge Parkway) was formed.</p> <p>Once obtaining support from US Congress, Roosevelt&rsquo;s administration was able to determine necessary details to begin construction. Right-of-ways were to be purchased by states and then transferred to the National Park Service, creating a single, narrow national park spanning hundreds of miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At times, the right-of-way for the road is as narrow at 200 feet. In the early days of planning the route for the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Tennessee clashed over competing proposed routes: one through northeastern Tennessee, and the other through northwestern North Carolina. North Carolina&rsquo;s congressman Bob Doughton is credited with ensuring NC&rsquo;s route was chosen, giving Watauga, Ashe, Wilkes, and Alleghany Counties the Parkway we all enjoy today.</p> <p>Construction began near North Carolina&rsquo;s Cumberland Knob in September 1935, and ground was formally broken in Virginia a few months later. Progress was slow. Weather, rugged terrain, reluctant landowners, and a lack of reliable mapping made the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway a challenging endeavor. Minimizing the impact to the fragile habitats along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains was always a priority. There were 26 tunnels and hundreds of miles of narrow bench cuts constructed through high mountain passes. All but one particularly rugged section along Grandfather Mountain&rsquo;s southeastern slopes were finally completed by 1966. The Linn Cove Viaduct, a short drive on the Parkway from Ashe County, was not opened until 1987. &ldquo;The Viaduct,&rdquo; as it is known by locals, is a modern engineering marvel &ndash; quite literally a highway in the sky built next to Grandfather Mountain to preserve its natural beauty.</p> <p>The Blue Ridge Parkway, and the splendor of the Appalachian Mountains in northwestern North Carolina, make Ashe County an enticing place to call home. Many of our properties are within a few miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Come visit our special corner of North Carolina or <a href="/categories/blue-ridge-mountain-real-estate">check out the listings</a> on our website to learn why Ashe County is the perfect place for your new mountain escape.</p>

Where is Ashe County, NC?

<p>Ashe County, North Carolina encompasses 427.05 square miles of rolling hills, low land, and mountains. Elevations range between 2,700 feet above sea level in the lower areas in and around the New River, while the highest summit is Peak Mountain at 5,100. Homesites range from 2,800 feet in elevation up to elevations of 4,960 in Big Tree on Bald and Elk Mountain and up to 4,600+ in Stonebridge on Elk Mountain.</p> <p>There are ninety-nine counties in the state of North Carolina.&nbsp; Ashe County is the most Northwestern county bordering Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north.&nbsp; It has become known at the &ldquo;Coolest Corner&rdquo; in North Carolina.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of the most beautiful scenery in the world is in the North Carolina Mountains. You will find unsurpassed long-range mountain views.&nbsp; There are native trout streams, hiking trails, the New River for canoeing and tubing, music festivals, the arts, just to name a few.&nbsp; Ashe County&rsquo;s natural areas include acres of state and federal parks. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Mt. Jefferson State Park and the New River State Park are only three.&nbsp; In addition to the many events the county has to offer, it is the springboard for activities in Southwestern Virginia, Boone, Blowing Rock, and the ski areas of the North Carolina Mountains. It is also home to the first frescos painted by the renowned Ben Long presented on the walls of St. Mary&rsquo;s Episcopal Church in Beaver Creek and Holy Trinity in Glendale Springs.</p> <p>Jefferson is the county seat and the older of the three towns in the county. The county seat is in Jefferson and is the largest of the nineteen townships. This is where the government facilities are and the first incorporated town. West Jefferson is the largest town, with Lansing, NC being the smallest of the three.</p> <p>Not so many years ago, the town of West Jefferson catered to mostly local traffic. As the larger discount stores moved into the area, the downtown soon realized a decline in retail sales. The downtown shopkeepers realized they had to change the way they did business and to attract more visitors, the town must become more attractive. The goal was to attract more tourists and retirees who wanted to visit or retire to the North Carolina Mountains.</p> <p>An undertaking to revitalize the downtown has successfully neared completion and West Jefferson has now become a friendly pedestrian town. The revitalization included an art district, street murals, green spaces, and a pocket park. Ashe County Arts sponsor a downtown bi-monthly &ldquo;Gallery Crawl&rdquo; and the pocket park serves as a music venue during the summer months. There are art galleries, specialty shops, a delightful choice of restaurants, a farmer&rsquo;s market on the backstreet, antique shops, Florence Thomas School of Art, and North Carolina&rsquo;s oldest cheese plant in North Carolina.&nbsp;</p> <p>When one asks, &quot;Where is Ashe County?&quot; you can say it is the &ldquo;Coolest County&rdquo; in the North Carolina Mountains. It is a beautiful place to visit with immeasurable activities and opportunities. It is also a place to visit and a place to call home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Ashe Civic Center, Blue Ridge Brutal

<p>The Ashe Civic Center boasts 282 seats and features a wide variety of family-friendly performances throughout the year including live music, theatre, comedy, dance, and more. The &ldquo;Ashe County Little Theatre&rdquo; community-based volunteer organization utilizes the Civic Center as its main performance venue, showcasing several shows every year. For a complete list of upcoming events, visit</p> <p>Ashe County&rsquo;s Civic Center is located in the heart of Ashe County on Highway 221 between Jefferson and West Jefferson. There is plenty of free parking at the venue.</p> <p>Tickets for events at the Ashe County Civic Center can be purchased online at, by phone (336-846-2787), or nearby at the Ashe Arts Center (303 School Ave. West Jefferson).</p> <h3>Blue Ridge Brutal at the Ashe Civic Center</h3> <p>The Ashe Civic Center sponsors the infamous Blue Ridge Brutal bicycle ride, attracting hundreds of cyclists to the region every year. Participants can choose from 102, 72, or 56-mile routes, all options leading riders through some of the most challenging and beautiful terrain in the country. A rolling 20-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Idlewild and Laurel Springs is a typically a rider favorite. The 2020 edition of the Blue Ridge Brutal is on Saturday, August 22nd .</p>

West Jefferson’s Ashe County Arts Center

<p>Have you ever traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway and admired the rustic stone used for guard rails and for most of the older bridges? The Ashe County Arts Center is one of several buildings in West Jefferson that was built with a similar type of stone and has the same pure Appalachian feel as the Blue Ridge Parkway. During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the New Deal and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to help put American people to work. Thanks to the WPA, the building that now houses the Ashe County Arts Center, along with several other buildings in West Jefferson, was constructed.</p> <p>Located at the corner of Main Street, 6th Avenue, and School Avenue, the Ashe County Art Council&rsquo;s Art Center adds a vibrant artistic touch to downtown West Jefferson. Walking inside this historic building, visitors will enjoy a wide variety of art exhibitions or art competitions that rotate every six weeks throughout the year. &ldquo;Best of the Blue Ridge,&rdquo; and a youth exhibition called &ldquo;Young at Art&rdquo; are two of the most prominent events held at the Ashe County Arts Center. A gallery shop is also in the arts center, allowing visitors the opportunity to purchase masterpieces from over 100 artists from across the region. In addition to beautiful physical displays, the historic building is home to multiple concerts and literary events every year. For a full schedule of events, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <h3>More on the Ashe County Arts Center and Arts Council</h3> <p>The Ashe County Arts Council is a non-profit organization that exists to &ldquo;enrich the cultural life of the region.&rdquo; The organization fulfills its mission by offering leadership, collaboration opportunities, and growth through the arts in Ashe County. The Ashe County Arts Council has helped to foster barn quilt artwork, murals, and other forms of public art throughout the area. Here at Ashe High Country Realty, we&rsquo;re happy to have an organization like the Ashe County Arts Council active in our community!</p> <p>Source: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p>

Florence Thomas Art School in West Jefferson

<p>West Jefferson’s Florence Thomas Art School carries on the legacy of one of Ashe County’s most talented artists. </p> <br/><br/> <p>Florence Thomas was born in Ashe County without all the many conveniences residents enjoy today. Back in 1909, there were few roads into the area, and electricity had not yet arrived in many corners of Ashe County. Thomas’ parents moved her from school to school in the county aiming to provide a fruitful education. In high school, Thomas found several scraps of canvas and was able to express her artistic abilities for the first time. Florence Thomas would continue to earn a scholarship to pursue her artistic passion, found the Blue Ridge Art Clan, and have her work featured in famous exhibitions across the eastern United States. </p> <p>The Florence Thomas Art School affords locals and visitors an opportunity to appreciate local art as well as refine their personal skills as an artist. In addition to hosting workshops for artists of all abilities, there are many other events and gallery exhibits throughout the year. Visit to stay up to date with additional art events to stretch your creative abilities.</p> <h3>Have a Heart Animal-Themed Exhibit:</h3> <p><b>Opening Reception</b>: February 8th, 1-3 PM.</p> <p>Artist entry fees and 5% of all artwork sales at this special event will be donated to the Ashe County Humane Society. Submit a photo of your pet into a raffle to win a custom 11”14” portrait! $5 entry for raffle.</p> <h3>First Friday:</h3> <p><b>Time</b>: 6-9 PM, first Friday of every month.</p> <p>Learn from a professional artist and create your very own work of art. Workshops are $35 with all materials provided.</p> <h3>Gallery Crawl:</h3> <p><b>Time</b>: 5-8 PM, second Friday of the month, from June-October.</p> <p>Many art galleries in West Jefferson will be open for this event – free entry.</p> <h3>A Mixed Palette:</h3> <p><b>Time</b>: 10:30-noon, June 8th, July 13th, and August 10th.</p> <p>Learn from talented artists through open discussions and presentations – free entry.</p> <h3>Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts:</h3> <p>The Corey Anne Celebration happens during the month of August and includes a gallery exhibition, a symposium, and an expressive arts workshop.</p> <p>Florence Thomas Art School’s mission is to “provide resources for instruction, exhibition and experience in the fine arts and heritage crafts for Ashe County and the region.” Drop by to experience this special venue for yourself!</p>

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