NC Highway Historic Marker honor pioneering photographer George Masa

Stella McDaniel

Most people know that North Carolina and Tennessee share the most frequented park in the nation, and that the overall quantity of people to the Smokies in 2021 exceeded 14 million.

But quite a few may well not yet know that one particular of the figures responsible for the Smokies even getting a park was a sprightly Japanese person with a huge grin, a clunky digicam that was condition-of-the-art for its day, and a odd wheel attached to bicycle handlebars with which he measured several of the peaks comprising the Smokies Divide.

In an hard work to honor this charismatic photographer and influencer important to the creation of Great Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park, the North Carolina Section of Pure and Cultural Resources will identify Masaharu Iizuka (aka George Masa) with a new North Carolina Highway Historical Marker on Patton Avenue just west of Pack Sq. in Asheville, to be unveiled April 8 at 10:30 a.m.

From left, Barbara Ambler Thorne, Jewell King and other members of the Carolina Mountain Club use George Masa’s modified bicycle wheel to measure the Great Smoky Mountains. Masa was a founding member of the club and the club photographer until his death in 1933.

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The marker will be put close to the locations of two of Masa’s offices. His initial, Plateau Studio, was over Smith’s Drug Retailer in Pack Sq. his very last was in the Grove Arcade — two iconic buildings still sizeable in the architecture of downtown Asheville.

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