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July 29, 2014

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From left, Albert Yount, Bob Shepard and Doug Matheson inspect a portion of Wonderland Trail that has had landslide occur under it. Jeff Eason photo

Originally published: 2013-08-01 08:36:14
Last modified: 2013-08-01 08:38:14

Wonderland blocked off

This summer, Blowing Rock and the rest of Western North Carolina experienced the rainiest July ever, with more than 20 inches reported in some places.

The heavy rainfall caused its fair share of problems, as many roads and driveways washed out in places and a large sinkhole appeared near the entrance to the Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway.

Heavy rains on Sunday, July 7, caused a landslide below part of Wonderland Trail, between cliffside houses owned by the Gore family at 1293 Wonderland Trail and the Perry family at 1239 Wonderland Trail.

Town officials have blocked off a section of the road to traffic.

Because the roadway has access out of the Mayview Park neighborhood in both directions, no homeowners are cut off from an access into town.

On Monday, Mayor J.B. Lawrence, interim Town Manager Bob Shepard, members of the Blowing Rock Town Council and town engineer Doug Chapman took a field trip to inspect Wonderland Trail and the landslide site.

“At some point about 18 years ago, the town came in and put an additional 12 feet of road in this area. They built rock baskets, some of them on concrete footings, some of them not on footings. The ones not on concrete footings have blown out in places,” Chapman said.

Where the landslide occurred is some of the steepest rock face in the High Country. “There is no way to get down there with equipment,” Chapman said.

He will make a presentation to the Blowing Rock Town Council during its regularly scheduled public meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Chapman will present a number of possible solutions, the pros and cons and costs of each one, and their possible consequences for the town, homeowners and motorists.

“It’s not going to be a quick fix. This section of the road will be closed until it is fixed,” he said.

Monica Perry, one of the two homeowners directly affected by the landslide, allowed Chapman and the others onto the deck of her house for a better look at the landslide.

Rocks, fallen trees and other debris were strewn down the mountainside for at least 50 feet, just past the Perry residence. A locust stump appeared to hold an old rock wall from falling during the landslide.

“The landslide took out some really nice plants that I had planted out there. It must have happened while we were gone, because I’m sure I would have heard it,” Perry said.

In addition to being town engineer for Blowing Rock, Chapman is a senior project manager for McGill & Associates in Hickory.

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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