One of the lesser known attractions on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Masonic Shrine, built in the 1930’s and home today to an annual gathering of Masons. The property is bounded on one side by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on three sides by the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The monument was completed in 1938, built out of stones from virtually all of the United States and forty-one countries. A list of each stone can be found here.
The steps to the monument were completed in 1948.
Today, you will note that the shrine is surrounded by an iron fence erected in 1954 and a wooden roof erected in 1978. Both structures are for the protection of the shrine.
Starting in 1938, and every year since, the Great Smokies Summer Assembly is held here in Maggie Valley with a gathering at the shrine. The gathering occurs on the second weekend of July and this year’s schedule can be found here.
If you are visiting our area, you can find the shrine in the Black Camp Gap Area. Between Soco Gap and Cherokee, take Heintooga Road off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just as you enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will see a marker for the shrine on your right. This is a terrific location for a quiet picnic lunch since few people come this way.
Shortly after the marker, Heintooga Road becomes Heintooga Round Bottom Road, a single lane fire road that twists and turns for 14 miles to Cherokee. Only open from spring to fall, this is a beautiful, off-the-beaten-path experience, but you need to have a proper vehicle and be prepared to deal with bad weather. I will bring some photographs from that road this fall.
Enjoy this week’s pictures from the Masonic Shrine and Heintooga Road.
NOTE – Click on any of the photographs to enlarge and start a slide show. Depending on your viewing device, use the arrows below the photographs to scroll on a non-touch screen OR just swipe on a touchscreen.
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