Great Smoky Mountains Masonic Shrine, Maggie Valley
The Masonic marker or memorial at Black Camp Gap stands 12-feet tall and is 9-feet square at its base. Its three concrete tiers are covered with at least 687 stones and minerals. The pieces include stones from Plymouth Rock, Pike’s Peak, a brick from the White House given by Franklin D. Roosevelt, a piece of an Egyptian pyramid and the Alamo. Sizes range from a few ounces to a 170-pound stone from an outpost in Cuba built by Hernado de Soto in the 1500s and were thoroughly cataloged at the time of construction in 1938. The front faces east and its middle tier is dominated by a large triangle with one of the primary inscriptions. On the lower east side tier are two smaller triangles with inscriptions. Many of the individual stones covering the memorial also have inscriptions with Masonic symbols or that identify the donor.
The memorial marks the site of a vault that held Masonic mementos contributed by 30 Grand Councils of the United States and Canada. An iron fence was placed in 1954 to prevent looting and a wooden cover was constructed around 1978 to further protect the memorial. A stone stairway leads up a hill to the marker. Near the marker is a plaque to Troy Wyche who envisioned the marker and a National Park Service sign detailing the history of the marker.
Images (courtesy of Cosmos Mariner): Contemporary view | Memorial Plaque to Troy Wyche | the Masonic Marker Staircase
Large upper triangle: THE / VISIBLE / STONES / OF THIS / MARKER WERE / SENT FROM / HISTORIC OR / INTERESTING PLACES / BY FREEMASONS OF / THE AMERICAS, EUROPE, / ASIA, AFRICA, AUSTRALIA / AND ISLES OF THE SEA.
TO UNIVERSAL BENEVOLENCE
Lower left triangle: DEDICATED / JULY 11TH / A.D. 1938 A.L. 5938 / AS A SYMBOL OF THE / ETERNAL FLAME WHICH / WORKING IN THE DEPTHS / OF OUR HEARTS, FORMS THE / STONES FOR THE BROTHERLY / TEMPLE OF MANKIND
Lower right triangle: ERECTED / BY GRAND / COUNCIL OF ROYAL / AND SELECT MASTERS / IN NORTH CAROLINA AT / SITE OF MEMORIAL DEPOSIT / OF JULY 5, 1937 WHICH / WILL BE OPENED IN 1972
Memorial plaque: In Memoriam / Erected by the Grand Council / of R. & S. M. in North Carolina / to the memory of / P. G. M. T. Troy Wyche / through whose vision and / untiring services the / marker to Universal / Benevolence was erected / July 10, 1939
Waynesville Masonic Lodge
July 11, 1938
35.509890 , -83.179160 View in Geobrowse
"Great Smoky Mountains Masonic Marker," from "Images of North Carolina," Digital NC, July 11, 1938, courtesy of The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina, (accessed May 12, 2021) Link
Bernstein, Danny. "A Masonic Marker on the Blue Ridge Parkway," National Parks Traveler, nationalparkstraveler.org, (accessed May 12, 2021) Link
Elliston, Jon. “Shrine On: For 80 Years, WNC’s Masonic Monument Has Preserved Far-Flung Pieces of History,” WNC Magazine (Asheville, NC), September/October 2017, (accessed May 11, 2021) Link
“Great Smoky Mountains Masonic Monument/Marker,” Phoenixmasonary.org., (accessed May 11, 2021) Link
“Masonic Marker Is Dedicated at Black Camp Gap,” Asheville Citizen Times (Asheville, NC), July 12, 1938
“Masonic Monument, Black Camp Gap,” from "Driving Through Times" in Documenting the American South digital library, docsouth.unc.edu/blueridgeparkway/, (accessed May 11, 2021) Link
“Masonic Shrine: Catalog of Stones in Marker,” Phoenixmasonary.org, (accessed May 11, 2021) Link
“President to Send Stones for Marker,” Asheville Citizen Times (Asheville, NC), June 3, 1938
“Stone From Pyramid to Go Into W.N.C. Marker,” Asheville Citizen Times (Asheville, NC), June 5, 1938
“The Masonic Marker,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org (accessed May 12, 2021) Link
Rocks and minerals joined with concrete and mortar
Troy Wyche, Waynesville Masonic Lodge
In 1972, the memorial box was unearthed, and the contents removed and placed in a display in Waynesville Masonic Lodge. A new container, with items from the 1970s, was placed back in the vault.
The Masonic Marker is at Black Camp Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 17 miles from Waynesville in Haywood County. It can be reached by turning on the Blue Ridge Parkway from U.S. highway 19 at Soco Gap, going to Wolf Laurel Gap, then following Heintooga Ridge Road (look for signs directing to the marker).
The Blue Ridge Parkway scenic views surround the mountainous, tree covered area near the top of a ridge line.
North Carolina’s York Rite Masons have gathered in the area for their summer assembly every year since 1935, three years prior to the marker dedication.