Rockefeller Memorial, Newfound Gap
Historic Philanthropic Figures
Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm, Brookline, MA, Designer
The Rockefeller Monument is a massive two tiered stone structure forming two half ovals that sits astride the North Carolina and Tennessee state border at Newfound Gap. The walls and platforms are constructed of stone laid masonry and stand against the gap’s rising summit. A curving stairway of stone blocks runs along the outer edge of the memorial to the viewing area. There is a stone drinking fountain, no longer in use, it once offered pure mountain water to park visitors. The memorial was completed in September 1939 and was the spot from which President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smokey Mountain National Park in September 1940. A 1984 plaque celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The park was rededicated in 2009 for its 75th anniversary.
Upper original plaque: FOR THE PERMANENT ENJOYMENT / OF THE PEOPLE
THIS PARK WAS GIVEN / ONE HALF BY THE PEOPLE AND STATES / OF NORTH CAROLINA AND TENNESSEE / AND BY THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / AND ON HALF IN MEMORY OF LAURA SPELLMAN ROCKEFELLER BY THE / LAURA SPELLMAN ROCKEFELLER MEMORIAL / FOUNDED BY HER HUSBAND / JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER.
Lower 1984 Plaque: IN COMMEMORATION OF / 50 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE OF / CONSERVATION RESTORATION AND ENJOYMENT
PRESENTED JUNE 25, 1984 / BY THE CITIZEN COMMITTEE FOR / THE GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY OF / THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
National Park Service
September 2, 1940. Rededication: September 2, 2009
35.611310 , -83.424860 View in Geobrowse
"Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountain National Park,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov, (accessed June 24, 2016) Link
Miller, George . "A Smoky Mountains Birthday," The Saturday Evening Post, http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com, April 17, 2014, (accessed November 12, 2016) Link
“Great Smoky Mountains National Park 75th Anniversary,” The Blue Ridge Highlander, http://theblueridgehighlander.com, (accessed June 24, 2016) Link
“Newfound Gap And Rockefeller Memorial, Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (PO77), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Link
“President Roosevelt Speaking At The Dedication Of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial,” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (PO77), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Link
“Rockefeller Memorial,” My Smokey Mountain Vacation, (accessed June 24, 2016) Link
“Stories, Great Smoky Mountain National Park,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov, (accessed June 24, 2016) Link
North Carolina and Tennessee state legislatures
Approximately $20,000, with North Carolina and Tennessee contributing $10,000 each.
“It is good and right that we should conserve these mountain heights of the old frontier for the benefit of the American people. But in this hour we have to safeguard a greater thing: the right of the people of this country to live as free men. Our vital task of conservation is to preserve the freedom that our forefathers won in this land, and the liberties that were proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and embodied in our Constitution,” from the park dedication speech of President Roosevelt. Much of this speech was given as a warning to the American people of the dangers to freedom presented by the war waging in Europe.
The monument was erected to honor John D. Rockefeller’s generous donation of $5 million dollars, in memory of his wife Laura Spelman Rockefeller, which helped purchase the land for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Rockefeller requested that the memorial be “of the simplest possible form” and that it not be built before the park was fully completed. Planning for the memorial began in 1936 with the choosing of Newfound Gap as the location. Newfound Gap is a mountain pass located near the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the lowest drivable pass through the park.
The memorial sits astride the North Carolina and Tennessee state border just off Highway 441, 18-19 mile or a 30 minute drive from Cherokee, N.C. From Tennessee it is a 35 minute, 16-17 mile drive from Gatlinburg.
The overlook at Newfound Gap is a popular stop for tourist to admire scenic views of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.