Documenting the American South

The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway

Oral History Interview with Dillard Teer, January 20, 1997

Transcript (17 p.) PDF
Complete Audio File (MP3 format / ca. 100 MB, 54:22) MP3
Abstract Dillard Teer describes his experiences growing up on the Blue Ridge Parkway during his father work as a contractor and details his own work as contractor on the parkway. Teer's father, Nello L. Teer, completed his work on the parkway with the use of only one hand. Teer describes his father as an entrepreneur, detailing his father’s work and life at various parkway locations, including Cumberland Knob, Gillespie Gap, Glendale Springs, Doughton Gap. Included is discussion of Nello L. Teer’s construction of camps for African American workers on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In 1941, Teer began work for his father on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Teer worked as a timekeeper at Gillespie Gap from 1938 to 1940; and he worked constructing roads. Teer describes equipment used for road, bridge, and tunnel construction; his interactions with landscape architects; and wages for parkway workers. Discussion also includes the cutting of trees in construction of the parkway, its use as timber, and the Chestnut blight of the 1930s near Asheville, NC. Teer describes the 12 to 14 hour work days as arduous, leaving little time for recreational activity or social life for parkway employees.

Teer discusses the beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway and his yearly visits to the parkway today. Mountain moonshining and bootlegging during parkway construction are also discussed. When asked if he has any best experiences working on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Teer says he does not and continues to discuss his brother's death on the parkway, which he describes as the worst experience of his life.
Date January 20, 1997
Interviewee Teer, Dillard
Interviewee occupation Contractor
Interviewee DOB May 12, 1980
Interviewer Mullis, Julie
Subject Contractors
Road construction