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Grandfather Mountain Preservationist Dies At Age 85

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hugh Morton, whose camera lens captured some of North Carolina's enduring images and whose passion for environmental causes preserved

Grandfather Mountain

, died Thursday.

Morton died at about 6 p.m. from esophageal cancer, said his daughter, Catherine. He was at his home in Linville, at the base of Grandfather Mountain.

From courtside at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill to the heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains he adored, Morton took his camera everywhere. He photographed University of North Carolina president Frank Porter Graham pitching a horseshoe, Michael Jordan in a Tar Heel uniform and the Charlotte skyline as seen from atop Grandfather Mountain -- 100 miles away -- on an exceptionally clear day.

He had a flair for promotion, dreaming up the "Mile-High Swinging Bridge" that became the symbol of Grandfather Mountain and running publicity for Luther Hodges' successful 1956 gubernatorial campaign.

And in his most famous campaign, he stopped the National Park Service from building the last 7.7 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway over Grandfather Mountain, saving the mountain he owned and loved.

Morton was 85.

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