By executive order, Governor Bill Haslam is renaming Rocky Fork State Park in Unicoi County after Senator Lamar Alexander. The designation honors the senior senator for his service to the state.
“Senator Alexander has spent a lifetime serving Tennesseans and promoting Tennessee to the world,” Haslam said. “He loves the state from Memphis to Mountain City. His roots are in East Tennessee, and it is fitting that this special place in this special state bears his name. Tennessee’s state parks are indebted to him and his service both as governor and as senator, and visitors to this state park will be reminded of his work every time they visit.”
Alexander had a hand in securing federal funding for what is now known as part of the Cherokee National Forest.
Gov. Bill Haslam made a stop in the Tri-Cities this morning to rename Rocky Fork State Park after Sen. Lamar Alexander 🏕 @WJHL11 @ABCTriCities pic.twitter.com/nhSqBa3wul— Caroline Corrigan (@CarolineWJHL) January 7, 2019
The state park is 10,000-acres of mountainous terrain with elevations as high as 4,800 feet.
Back in 2006, Alexander aided in securing $30 million to buy the land. The land was also added to the Cherokee National Forest.
And in 2012, Governor Haslam announced that 2,000 acres of Rocky Fork would become Tennessee’s 55th state park.
“I am grateful for this unexpected and thoughtful gesture by Governor Haslam,” Alexander said. “Rocky Fork is a treasure in one of the most beautiful sections of our country. It is Upper East Tennessee’s ‘Gateway to the Appalachian Trail.’ Because of its natural beauty and high elevations, it should soon be one of our state’s most popular parks. Living in the foothills of the Smokies, I have seen how a popular park can provide outdoor experiences for Tennesseans and also attract tourism, jobs and tax dollars to adjacent counties.”
Alexander is a native of Maryville and has held his seat in the United States Senate since 2003. He served as governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987. He also served as president of University of Tennessee from 1988 to 1991 and was the U.S. Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993.