Swain County’s “Road to Nowhere”

On February 6, 2010, Swain County’s six-mile “Road to Nowhere” was officially abandoned by the federal government.

The road—called Lakeview Drive—dates back to the 1940s when the federal government and the Tennessee Valley Authority took over land in Swain and Graham Counties and flooded it as part of the Fontana Dam and Great Smoky Mountains National Park projects. The government promised it would build a 30-mile road to help make up for the loss of access to the area caused by the closure of Highway 288, which was flooded. Shortly after construction began, the project stalled due to environmental issues.  Although funding for the work was appropriated later, the road never came to fruition largely because the cost of its construction was so high.

In February 2010, the National Park Service aggreed to pay Swain County $52 million—the approximate cost of fulfilling the government’s promise—as a substitute to actually finishing the drive. To this day, Lakeview Drive provides some of the best views of Fontana Lake, the Tuckasegee River and the surrounding landscape.

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