We are all familiar with our beloved Mt. Mitchell State Park with the same namesake as Mitchell County NC - Dr. Elisha Mitchell. This land on the crest of the Black Mountains was the first in North Carolina to be designated as a State Park in 1915. Since then Mt. Mitchell has had five structures erected on its summit to commemorate it as the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet of elevation.
Now there is a brand new observation deck standing proud on its summit. The previous tower was torn down because of safety issues related to its structural stability. The once pea gravel and rock step trail that leads from the upper parking area to the summit observation deck is now a paved trail to allow access for individuals with disabilities. The observation deck itself also has a ramp going to the top instead of steps for easier access.
The grade of the trail is such that someone in a wheelchair will not be able to go to the summit by their own power. However, the park staff will provide assistance to those who need it in the form of shuttling to and from the upper parking area to the summit tower ramp by use of a bench seated ATV.
In 1926, a square stone tower was built. This stood until 1959 when the 30-foot tower that we all became so familiar with was built in its place. Now in 2009, we have a new 12-foot tall stone faced observation deck that is modern in all its features but still allows Mt. Mitchell to be what it truly is - rugged and mighty.
The observation deck has informative plaques mounted on its rails with diagrams labeling the many prominent mountains that can be seen all around. On a clear day you can see as far away as the skyscrapers of Charlotte, NC over 100 miles away.
Taken from an article in the Mitchell News Journal dated February 11, 2009.
PERSONAL TESTIMONY: Jann, Davis, and Jann's son, David along with his dog , Susie, made a trip to Mt. Mitchell on Sunday, March 15, 2009 to visit the new observation tower. David is disabled and we were so very excited that the tower is now accessible to him. When we arrived, we were greeted by a park employee, William Sutherland, on an ATV with enough seating for ALL of us. We rode up the new paved trail to the observation tower and Mr. Sutherland patiently waited for us to enjoy the short ramp walk to the platform to enjoy the views. It was quite a cool and windy day, but the views were magnificent. We even took time to take some photos with Grandfather, Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountains in the distance. "Thank You" North Carolina Park Service for the new tower so others like David can come and experience this opportunity they would not have otherwise.
Jann Godwin, Broker/Owner Timberline Properties Inc.
Photo: David and Susie enjoying the new tower!