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U.S. Highway 25E Receives National Scenic Byway Designation

Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. Photo by Charlie Bay.

Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. Photo by Charlie Bay.

The stretch of U.S. 25E from Cumberland Gap to Newport, called “East Tennessee Crossing” by the local orga­ni­za­tions who pro­mote tourism, received des­ig­na­tion as a National Scenic Byway on October 19, 2009.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made the announce­ment at a cer­e­mony in Washington, D.C.

Five coun­ties in East Tennessee (Claiborne, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson and Cocke) have being work­ing since 2003 to achieve the fed­eral des­ig­na­tion for the por­tion of U.S. 25E that runs through those counties.

Benefits of the des­ig­na­tion include fund­ing of $25,000 per year for five years; eli­gi­bil­ity to apply for fed­eral com­pet­i­tive grants; America’s Byways® brand­ing; national and inter­na­tional mar­ket­ing through the fed­eral pro­gram; and tech­ni­cal assis­tance from National Scenic Byways Program staff.

My pre­de­ces­sor, Chuck Davis, had the vision to pur­sue National Scenic Byway des­ig­na­tion for 25E, “said Maria Fisher, tourism direc­tor for the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce.  “After Chuck passed away in 2006, the steer­ing com­mit­tee con­tin­ued work­ing on the project.  This is such a won­der­ful trib­ute to his mem­ory since this des­ig­na­tion will help increase vis­i­ta­tion to our area and drive tourism devel­op­ment for years to come.”

In apply­ing for the national des­ig­na­tion, the steer­ing com­mit­tee had to demon­strate that the byway has ele­ments of regional and national sig­nif­i­cance.  Such assets include:  Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest, Wilderness Road, Daniel Boone National Historic Trail, planned exten­sion of the Lewis and Clark Trail, planned Daniel Boone National Historic Trail, Lincoln Museum, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Quilt Trail, first TVA dam and lake, Warrior Path/Buffalo Trail, Davy Crockett his­tory, Daniel Boone his­tory, Dixie Highway, Civil War his­tory, Thunder Road his­tory, Appalachian cul­ture, arts and history.

Our region has such an inter­est­ing story to tell trav­el­ers,” Fisher noted. “That’s why it was so impor­tant for us to be accepted into the national pro­gram because it will give our five coun­ties more resources and fund­ing to pro­mote this area to tourists.”

The steer­ing com­mit­tee for the East Tennessee Crossing Byway will host a local cer­e­mony to com­mem­o­rate the des­ig­na­tion later this fall.  Details on that event will be announced once plans are finalized.

Today’s announce­ment of 42 new des­ig­na­tions includes five All-American Roads and 37 National Scenic Byways in 26 states. This increases the num­ber of America’s Byways® to 151.  There was only one other des­ig­na­tion in Tennessee, the Great River Road in West Tennessee.

By enrich­ing the National Scenic Byways pro­gram with their own unique his­tor­i­cal or aes­thetic qual­ity, these new addi­tions help our national road sys­tem tell our country’s story,” said Secretary LaHood.  “These routes con­tinue to offer Americans excit­ing new oppor­tu­ni­ties to explore the nation — whether they travel close to home or across the country.”

Created in 1991, the National Scenic Byways pro­gram is a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort to help rec­og­nize, pre­serve and enhance selected roads through­out the United States.  It has funded 2,672 projects for state and nation­ally des­ig­nated byway routes in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

The U.S. Department of Transportation rec­og­nizes cer­tain roads as All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways based on one or more arche­o­log­i­cal, cul­tural, his­toric, nat­ural, recre­ational and scenic qual­i­ties.  With Massachusetts and New Jersey included in the 2009 des­ig­na­tions, 46 states have America’s Byways® in them.

For more infor­ma­tion visit

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