Activities & Interests
Yancey History Association and Rush Wray Musuem
The Yancey History Association was formed in 1979 and by 1989 had purchased the property on which the “McElroy House” museum and the 1920’s gas station “Chamber of Commerce-Visitors Center” are located. The dedication of the house as the Rush Wray Museum came in 1999 when the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2004 the house became part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails, and finally in 2005 the office building next door, along with the parking lot, was donated to the association and now houses the Yancey County History and Genealogy Library, Veteran’s Hall of Honor and other exhibits as well as archival and meetings spaces. Here the history, culture and heritage of this mountain community comes alive through living history programs.
Rush Wray Museum
The museum is located in the McElroy House, a Georgian style home built in the 1840’s by local businessman John Wesley McElroy. The home itself offers visitors a step back in time with even fireplaces and an L wing at the back. Much of the house appears as it would have in the mid-1800s. Artifacts from the frontier era until the 1950’s are on exhibit in the house.
The first floor of the museum offers a pre-history exhibit of American Indian artifacts (one of the best exhibits found in Western North Carolina aside from the Cherokee Museum) featuring artifacts of the Paleo, Archaic and Woodland periods as found in the valleys from Cane River in the West through to Brush Creek in the Northeastern part of the county and all points between.
The lower level, which is handicap accessible, houses the association office, Genealogy Library, Ce-Nan Museum Gift Shop, Medical Display, Veteran’s Hall of Honor, Mineral Display and other changing and permanent exhibits. The second level houses archival storage and a conference room.
History can be seen outside as well. The Proffitt-Cousins cabin is located on the grounds, as well as the original cabin from Elk Shoal, a smoke house and well. The blacksmiths “smithy” shop will be added in the near future.
The Yancey History Association sponsors many events, including Living History Month, Civil War Commemorations, Children’s Storytelling Camp, Pickin’ on the Porch, Blue Ridge Heritage Day (with Toe River Arts Council), Blue Ridge Pottery Exhibit, Veterans BBQ, Membership Appreciation Day, Period Teas and the Old Timey Fall Festival on Burnsville Town Square on the last Saturday in September.
Hours of Operation
Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, April to October.
General admission: $3
Special exhibits: $5
Members and children are free.
The Museum offers special rates for groups.
The Rush Wray Museum and Lloyd Bailey Annex are in downtown Burnsville, NC.
- Penland School of Crafts (11 miles)
Penland School of Crafts, in Penland, NC, is a national center for education in contemporary and traditional craft.
- Nolichucky River (12 miles)
North Carolina's Nolichucky River is considered one of the most spectacular whitewater rafting destinations in the eastern U.S.
- Mount Mitchell State Park (12 miles)
Lofty Mount Mitchell, near Burnsville, NC, rises to 6,684 feet and is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River.