Travel

Wind claims Grandfather Mountain iconic sign

Those gusty winds that left tree limbs cluttered across your yards and knocked out power to some Carolinas residents on Sunday also did a number on one of North Carolina's well-known tourist attractions.

The large wooden sign that advertised Grandfather Mountain for the past half-century was flattened by wind gusts early Sunday in Linville. Officials at Grandfather Mountain say the sign, at U.S. 221 and N.C. 105, had been designed by architect Charles Hartman, the same person who designed the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge.

"The sign was an icon in North Carolina's travel industry," said Harris Prevost, vice president of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. "It was pure Americana -- 1950s, all the way. We're sorry to see this piece of history lost forever."

Grandfather Mountain officials say the sign was painted in bright yellow and green when it was built in the late 1950s, and then repainted in tan and brown in 2006. (The photo of the damaged sign above was shot by Kellen Short of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.)

The weather station at the Mile High Swinging Bridge recorded winds of up to 92.5 mph early Sunday. That is a lot stronger than elsewhere in North Carolina, but Grandfather Mountain is noted for having some extreme winds.

Wind speeds recorded atop the mountain came into question from some scientists, especially after the anemometer measured a 200 mph gust in 2006. Critics said the measuring device was mounted atop a building, allowing wind to funnel up the side of the building to the top -- producing an inaccurate measurement.

Grandfather Mountain officials responded by positioning the anemometer atop the Swinging Bridge, free of any interference.

Record Snow ... By the way, Grandfather Mountain set a record in February for the snowiest month ever up there. More than 13 inches fell during the month, including 10 inches on Feb. 13. That was the same storm that brought about 8 inches to Charlotte.

Sometime over the next few days, I'll publish a list of snowfall totals across the Carolinas for the winter of 2013-14.

But Mount Mitchell led the way with about 35 inches, a few inches more than Grandfather Mountain.

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