Great Smoky Mountains National Park Wins $250K Grant to Restore Clingmans Dome

They did it! After more than two months of voting by more than 1.1 million Americans, Friends of the Smokies announced Wednesday that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park had won a $250,000 grant as part of the Partners in Preservation: National Parks campaign. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park came out as the second-most voted for park, and won the substantial grant to restore the famous Clingmans Dome Observation Tower. We reported earlier this year how the park was competing in this campaign, and the hard work of the park and support of its visitors has paid off!

YouTube Video from the Partners in Preservation describing the campaign:

The awarded grant is slated to be used to repair the base of the tower, which has worn over time. Park officials have said that, while structurally strong, the tower is in desperate need of rehabilitation to repair four inches of foundation settlement caused by uneven force on the structure. Preservation maintenance is also needed to address general deterioration conditions along the stone masonry walls, concrete structures, and flagstone terrace.

We are grateful for this opportunity which not only resulted in securing much-needed funds, but also provided a great chance to share this unique feature of our park with so many people. – Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokeswoman Dana Soehn.

Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, standing at 6,643 feet. In addition, the dome is the highest point in the state of Tennessee and the third highest mountain East of the Tennessee river. The tower was constructed in 1959, and since then millions of visitors have flocked to see the sweeping views of the Smokies that it provides. When you climb the short 0.5-mile distance to the top, you can see distances of up to 100 miles over the surrounding miles and valleys.

Clingmans Dome

Although structurally sound, restoration is needed to combat settling at the foundation, as well as other issues.

The Partners in Preservation: National Parks campaign was aimed at raising awareness of the importance of preserving historic places and to provide much needed funds for preservation and improvement in our national parks. It was the first national campaign of the Partners in Preservation, was sponsored by American Express, and hosted by National Geographic. Nine national parks were able to receive grants, and people were encouraged to vote for their favorite parks to determine the recipients of the prizes.

“We are so thankful for the community support during this competition,” said Jim Hart, president of Friends of the Smokies. “Our friends helped spread the word, and their votes kept the Smokies among the top spots right from the beginning. We’re excited to put this grant money to work.”

Although nine parks received grants, only the top three parks received the maximum prize of $250,000, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors also used the hashtag #voteyourpark to promote the campaign and share their experiences in the national parks. Below you’ll find some of our favorite Instagram posts about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s participation in the campaign.

Announcement of the win by Friends of the Smokies

Great photo by @jennifermarie93

Looking up at the observation tower at Clingmans Dome #voteyourpark #clingmansdome

A photo posted by Jennifer (@jennifermarie93) on

Photo by @appalachiantrail

A shot from the top of the tower by @von.co, reposted by Friends of the Smokies

A Mountain Selfie by @pinsandpens

A view of the dome by @_omniveros

Starry night at Clingmans Dome by @pvarney3, reposted by Friends of the Smokies

A time-lapse video by Friends of the Smokies

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