Source: Stephen Tyng Mather, Linville
Stephen Tyng Mather, Linville
The Stephen Tyng Mather plaque is approximately three-feet high by four-feet wide made of a silver metal. The relief sculpture pictures a profile of Mather on the right. The background is a mountain profile and the plaque is framed by a stand of trees on the left and a pine bough at the bottom. The lower third of the plaque holds the inscription. The plaque is attached to a large rock and weights approximately 40 pounds.
Of all 49 Mather plaques with the same scene found across the United States and its territories this particular one is unique. The plaque was transferred from the National Park Service History Collection in 1989 to be installed at the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center then under construction. It is cast in aluminum or a pewter alloy rather than bronze and no information on its history has been discovered. Beginning with the 1930’s there have been multiple castings of Mather plaques and it appears most similar to those cast in 1930 or 1959. The only speculation was that the NC plaque was a trial piece. (See subject notes below).
Images: View of the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center
STEPHEN TYNG MATHER / JULY 9, 1867 Jan. 22, 1930
HE LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE NATIONAL PARK / SERVICE, DEFINING AND ESTABLISHING THE POLICIES / UNDER WHICH ITS AREAS SHALL BE DEVELOPED AND / CONSERVED UNIMPAIRED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. / THERE WILL NEVER COME AN END TO THE GOOD THAT / HE HAS DONE.
National Park Service
May 25, 1990 (dedication date for visitor center)
36.090050 , -81.816630 View in Geobrowse
"Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway," from "Documenting the American South", docsouth.unc.edu, (accessed May 5, 2021) Link
Jansen, G. Arthur. "Mather Plaques - A History,” National Park Service History Electronic Library, npshistory.com/, (accessed April 21, 2021) Link
“Stephen Tyng Mather,” National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, (accessed April 25, 2021) Link
“Visitor Center Dedication,” Asheville Citizen Times (Asheville, NC), May 19, 1990
Aluminum or pewter alloy, stone
Stephen T. Mather Appreciation group and National Park Service
Stephen Tyng Mather was a wealthy businessman who used his passion and personal fortune to build public and political support for creation of the National Park Service. After the National Park Service was founded in 1916, Mather was appointed its first Director in 1917. He retired in 1929 after suffering a disabling stroke.
Plaques to Mather can be found from Alaska to the Virgin Islands, from Maine to Hawaii. They were placed at National Parks, a Sea Shore, Parkways, Memorial sites, a Battlefield, Recreation Areas, Historic Sites, administrative offices, State Parks, even a city park and at two schools across the country.
Gorham Bronze was contracted in 1930 for the first 28 bronze plaques, enough for less than half of the National Parks and National Monuments then in existence. A second run of 14 bronze plaques was ordered from Gorham in 1959 although the original mold had been destroyed. Another master mold was created using an original 1930 plaque from the National Park Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The second mold was also lost and in 1991 the third master mold created from the plaque at Wind Cave National Park which was used to make another 20 new plaques. In 2014 yet another (fourth!) master mold was created by Valley bronze in Joseph, Oregon and additional plaques cast.
The plaque is located outside of the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center at Milepost 304.4, Blue Ridge Pkwy, Linville, NC 28646.
The large rock with memorial plaque stands on an outside deck behind the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center and Bridge Museum, with the Blue Ridge Parkway as the most scenic backdrop.