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The Parking Lot Series: Grandfather Mountain in Kodachrome

Grandfather Mountain State Park is located in northwestern North Carolina, near the 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway in the town of Banner Elk. It was privately owned until 2008 when a portion of it became a State Park. At an elevation of 5,946 feet commanding views of up to 100-miles are possible and on a clear day the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, is visible.

The lead Kodachrome image contains the access area and parking lot at the Mile-High Swinging Bridge on the mountain which has a 360-degree view. The expandable shots of the the parking lot below are filled with mostly 1950s cars, although a number of early-1960s automobiles are visible along with three imports.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photograph courtesy of DigitalNC. Learn more about Grandfather Mountain State Park here.

18 responses to “The Parking Lot Series: Grandfather Mountain in Kodachrome

  1. In the lead photograph, on the far left, is a light blue, four-door, 1962 CHEVROLET Bel Air Sedan and right next to it is a white 1961 CHEVROLET Impala Sport Coupé.

    • That was the first car to catch my eye. I love the salmon / white / charcoal tri-tone on a Forward Look car.

  2. Front and center is a 1960 Buick Station Wagon. I see two VW bugs and a Volvo in the lot. I wonder if anyone fell off the stairs – appears to be no railing.

  3. In the upper left corner of the first enlarged shot, there’s a Corvair-based van. Don’t remember what they were called. Greenbrier? Also down from the van, a black Beetle and a black Thunderbird.
    And, agreed, steps look a bit hazardous!

  4. That futuristic looking bubble top next to the Volvo has me stumped.
    Catalina or 98 with skirts???

    • Photo is not too clear on my screen, but it looks like a 1959 Pontiac Bonneville. Otherwise a pretty mundane collection of American made automobiles — typical of middle America at the time.

  5. OMG, was there ever a more baby boomer moment in time??
    NOW it’s soccer mom’s and mini’s, SUV’s and the like……

  6. Paul, in high school I worked for a man who had a van like that. He called it a CorVan. I don’t know if that was official or if thatt was just what he called it.
    The car next to the Volvo is a puzzle. The glass arrangement makes me think Pontiac.

    • The Corvan was the panel version. Greenbrier was the windowed passenger version. My future father-in-law had a Greenbrier in the opposite color scheme shown here.

  7. My grandparents lived a few miles from that spot; born at the turn of the 20th century they maintained the traditions of Appalachian families and were tightly bonded to the region. They would often comment about how things had changed and marveled at the “flat-landers” that flocked to see what, to them, were mudane and routine sights. There is a specific dialect indigenous to the Grandfather Mountain region nearly gone now but quite easily identifiable to an old-timer.
    My grandad was driving a 1949 Ford F1 at this time and no, I did not see it in the photos. Someday maybe.
    Many thanks for a detour from the very interesting Northeast and Midwest memories often found here.
    Keep up the fine work.

  8. BTW: An abutment for the “Mile High Swinging Bridge” can be seen in photos 1 and 2. Not noted is the Mildred Bear and Her Cubs attraction that came later (if memory serves).

  9. Next to the Volvo is a ’59-’60 Olds(?). Notice that the roofline is the same as Chevy of those years.

      • It is a Pontiac. Tell by the chrome patches along side. I had a ’59 Super 88 2 door Olds. The tail lights and bumper are not Olds. In the first photo, the 6 th car on the left is a 4 dr hardtop ’59 Olds (tell by the tail lights)

  10. The 11th car from the left (cars with rear ends facing us) is a 1960 Ford Fairlane, I think one of the most beautiful, sleek and uncluttered designs ever to come from 1960s Detroit. Even the shape of the windscreen was a work of art!

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