Documenting the American South

The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway

Oral History Interview with Bernard Elias, June 24, 2003

Transcript (17 p.) PDF
Complete Audio File (MP3 format / ca. 116 MB, 01:03:23) MP3
Abstract Ted Coyle interviews Bernard Elias at the UNC Asheville Library to discuss Elias' involvement with the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Carolina Mountain Club. Topics of discussion in the early portion of this interview include Bernard Elias' childhood in Asheville, NC; his family history; the Elias family's Duke University legacy; his background and work in photography; and his return to live and work in Asheville.

Elias describes himself as an environmentalist, tracing his involvement in environmentalist groups and causes back to his involvement in the Boy Scouts. Elias details his involvement in the Carolina Mountain Club, beginning in 1941. He describes the "golden age" of hiking and compares his experiences hiking in the 1940s to hiking in more recent decades -- particularly the 1970s. Elias also discusses the status of Blue Ridge Parkway construction near Asheville in 1941.

In the second portion of this interview, Elias discusses the transition of the Carolina Mountain Club from a political advocacy group to a trail maintenance group; the relationship between the Carolina Mountain Club and the Mountains to the Sea Trail; conservation issues that Mr. Elias hopes people will work on over the next fifty years; and his likes and dislikes of the Blue Ridge Parkway; the deer issue in Biltmore Forest and issues between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Biltmore Forest; Elias' photography of the area; and his near death experience while hiking with the Carolina Mountain Club near Lake Lure. Elias also discusses his memories of Sam Weems; and his friendship with Granville Liles. Discussion of Granville Liles' work with Hugh Morton and their involvement in building the Linn Cove Viaduct are represented.
Date June 24, 2003
Interviewee Elias, Bernard
Interviewee occupation Environmentalist
Interviewee DOB December 20, 1918
Interviewer Coyle, Philip E.
Subject Environmentalism
Carolina Mountain Club of Asheville
Mountains-to-Sea Trail (N.C.)
Sam P. Weems