After eight years of waiting, Swain County, N.C., received a $35.2 million settlement from the federal government over the incomplete “Road to Nowhere” located in Bryson City. Construction on the road began after World War II under a 1943 federal agreement to give access to the North Shore ancestral lands and cemeteries made inaccessible by the creation of Fontana Lake.
Construction stopped in 1970 for financial and environmental reasons after conservationists garnered national support to oppose the project because of the damage it would cause to local ecosystems. In 2010, Swain County made an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior that allocated $52 million to the county by 2020. After a $12.8 million payout in 2010, these payments ceased until 2017 despite efforts by county officials and the district’s current and former congressional representatives.
According to Smoky Mountain News, Swain County Commission Chairman Phil Carson said, “hopefully [the principle on this sum] will help future generations not have to pay higher tax rates to be able to live here.” — By Locke Curtis