Suck Creek Road officially opened in May of 1921, as part of the legendary Dixie Highway. The work began in about 1915, and was performed primarily by convicts brought in from Brushy Mountain State Prison. However, the first World War and subsequent influenza outbreak stalled the project, and it wasn't until 1920 that the work began again in earnest, with additional inmates and newfangled machinery to take on the difficult terrain.
The route has undergone numerous changes in the decades since; some caused by natural disasters such as rockslides, and some implemented to make the road better to travel. In the 1980s, some of the sharper curves were made more straight, and guardrails were added in many places. In August of 1982, Suck Creek Bridge - which straddles the line from Hamilton County into Marion County - was completely washed away after heavy rains and flash floods.
To improve safety, in the 2000s, the few legal passing sections on the road were turned into no-passing; there are no legal spots to pass anywhere on the road once you start up the mountain. However, vehicles often pass other vehicles, and speed is always an issue on the mountain. Additionally, the road regularly sees trees across it, and has deterioriated and been repaired in many places over the years.
Read more about the history of Suck Creek Road at The Tennessee Magazine.