State historic route awarded national designation

The Obey River Gorge in Fentress County. (Photo: Chuck Sutherland)

UPPER CUMBERLAND ​— The Cumberland Historic Byway has been designated a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In earning the new scenic designation, the route and surrounding communities will have greater access to federal grant funding from the National Scenic Byway Program and national marketing from the America’s Byways program.  

“We are thrilled that the byway was awarded this national recognition,” stated UCDD Dale Hollow RPO Coordinator Mark Dudney. “The national designation represents a collaborative effort by the communities along the route going back for more than a decade. It’s an enormous opportunity for regional cooperation and development.” 

The Cumberland National Scenic Byway extends from the Cumberland Gap to the Cumberland 

River and crosses the following eight counties: Claiborne, Campbell, Scott, Morgan, Fentress, Pickett, Overton and Clay. The route stretches for roughly 156 miles and along a number of routes, namely: U.S. 25 E, S.R. 63, S.R. 52, U.S. 127 and S.R. 111. 

The route was formed in 2013 as regional leaders came together to discuss the Cumberland Plateau hosting a scenic byway. Working with these communities, Randy Williams and Dawn Kupferer of Kwill Consultants, Farmer Morgan, LLC and The Alliance for the Cumberlands led the planning efforts. Using a number of historic and recreational sites to connect the byway route, these leaders envisioned the byway as a means to both promote tourism and economic development, but also as a way to share the scenic Cumberland landscape with travelers. Their efforts led to the creation of a corridor management plan, and in February 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation designated the Cumberland Historic Byway a National Scenic Byway.  

Members of the Cumberland Historic Byway applied for the prestigious designation in June 2020, citing the historic quality of the route. To be designated a National Scenic Byway, a road must possess at least one of six intrinsic qualities and possess regional or national significance. These roads are often the “roads less traveled.”  

In earning this designation, the Cumberland Historic Byway joins four other Tennessee routes being recognized. Norris Freeway and the Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway were named National Scenic Byways, and the Newfound Gap and the Great River Road were named All-American Roads. Through previous rounds of designations, routes were designated in 1996, 2009 and now 2021. Tennessee now has ten nationally designated scenic byways. 

The National Scenic Byways Program, established by Congress in 1991 and administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), was created to preserve and protect the nation’s scenic byways and to promote tourism and economic development. More information about the National Scenic Byway Program can be found at  

About Upper Cumberland Development District: ​The Upper Cumberland Development District provides regional planning and assistance to the 14-county Upper Cumberland region to promote economic growth and community enhancement. Find UCDD on the web at and at

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