From 1933 - 1972 the iconic arch pointing the way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park spanned Main Street in Downtown Waynesville, NC. Ever since it was taken down over 50 years ago, locals and visitors alike remembered the arch and longed for it to be rebuilt. Now, the members of the Downtown Waynesville Association Executive Board are working to make that happen.
Please help us make that dream a reality by donating today! All money raised will be used to fabricate and install a new arch, so this gateway will once again point the way to the GSMNP!
On April 1, 1933, as a way to celebrate the enthusiasm surrounding the development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Town of Waynesville Board of Aldermen voted to donate $50 to help pay for the construction of of a “Parkway Sign at the corner of Depot and Main Streets” in Downtown Waynesville, North Carolina.
Later that month, a scale model of the sign was displayed in the window of the Massie Furniture store, just up the street from the proposed location of the arch, and a benefit movie showing was held with proceeds helping to raise the remainder of the $250 needed to construct the arch.
The Town of Waynesville Superintendent of Water & Lights, Oscar Briggs, fabricated the arch from steel and sheet iron. Installation began on Tuesday night, May 30, 1933, and was completed the next day. Later, a local sign painter added the lettering as shown in the photos above and to the left.
A newsletter distributed by the Chamber of Commerce dated June 1, 1933 notes the following:
A Definite Entrance
At last! You can’t have heard it, but you can’t miss having seen it if you’ve been up or down Main Street this morning! In the event you haven’t been—this is to advise you that the metal arch is in position. Although it isn’t painted yet, it already demands attention and prompts questions. If folks can see anything at all, they can certainly find the way to Soco Gap Highway when the painting is done, if they can’t see they won’t be driving so. All our hats are off to Mr. Briggs, his co-workers, and those who by contribution or effort helped to make the creation and placing of this splendid marker a reality.
In the late 1950s, the arch was repainted, and the wording changed to: Waynesville Scenic Center Eastern America
In the early 1970s after spanning Main Street for nearly 40 years, the arch began to show its age. The decades of exposure to the elements had taken a toll, and the iron sheeting was riddled with rust. After much debate, it was disassembled and buried in the city landfill in 1972.
Although the original arch is long gone, it’s never been forgotten. A local historian said this about the arch:
There is not a relic from Waynesville’s past remembered more fondly to locals than the arch. As a researcher and town historian, I’m asked about the sign more than any other single thing. " —Alex McKay
From the very day the arch was taken down, people have pined to see it rebuilt. With your help, we can make that happen.