Local News

Grandfather Mountain: Dazzling and Dangerous

Posted August 8, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— The rugged rocks, the wealth of wildlife, forests of fir and spruce -- they're all magnets making Grandfather Mountain one of the top tourist attractions in the South. It's a place where people can get close to nature, but like nature itself, it can be both dazzling and dangerous.

Linville peak at grandfather mountain is breathtaking and treacherous with big, beautiful open spaces. It's what drew Patsy Ashby here, and there she fell

Signs warn tourists to be careful. Some have suggested fences to protect the public, but those WRAL's Bill Leslie talked to disagree.

"If you put up a fence, where are you going to stop?" said tourist Emily Rowe. "You put a fence here and then there and then there, and then you can only hike with certain shoes and spikes on your shoes and after a while you might as well stay home and watch it on TV."

Mountain owner Hugh Morton says the number of guard-rails needed to secure the whole mountain would be prohibitive.

"If you were to try and put hand-rails everywhere that somebody could fall and hurt themselves, it wouldn't be in the hundreds. It would be in the thousands," said Morton.

Some of the best views come on ledges with little room for error. One step or stumble can mean trouble. There have been three fatalities here since 1952, two within the last year, and while any is too many, mountain authorities say that's not a bad record for 46 years.

About 250,000 people are expected to visit Grandfather Mountain this year. Numbers show that last weekend's accident did not slow the flow of visitors stepping across the famous Mile High Bridge.