As the county seat of one of Western North Carolina’s oldest counties and the seat of the oldest continuous government in the region, Rutherfordton, established in 1787, has a rich history.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
During the American Revolution the corps of Patriots known as the “Overmountain Men” marched through present-day Rutherfordton on their way to the Battle of Kings Mountain. The Patriots defeated British troops under the command of Maj. Patrick Ferguson on October 7, 1780, and in the opinion of Thomas Jefferson, “turned the tide of the war.” Today, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail runs through the town.
A Community of “Firsts”
Rutherfordton was also the location of the first U.S. Post Office in western North Carolina, established in 1798. The town was home to the first school chartered by the state legislature for Western North Carolina, the Rutherfordton Academy, which opened in 1806, and also the site of the first newspaper published in the western portion of the state, The North Carolina Spectator and Western Advertiser, founded in 1831.
But Rutherfordton offers contemporary riches, too. Explore one of North Carolina best children’s museums, a variety of independent restaurants, one of the premier women’s clothing outlets in Western North Carolina, and opportunities for golf in Western North Carolina, in addition to other activities and attractions.
In Rutherfordton, many visitors enjoy seeing the town’s history as reflected in its architecture on one of the North Carolina walking tours. A walking map of Historic Downtown Rutherfordton includes a cluster of antebellum homes and historic churches that represent fine historical architectural examples.
Tiffany Stained Glass
St. Francis Episcopal Church downtown has a collection of Tiffany stained glass windows in one of the North Carolina historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places. Walking tour maps can be found inside the Town Hall building on Main Street. For more information, visitors can also call the Downtown Rutherfordton Revitalization Project at 828-287-2071.
Located in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, Rutherfordton enjoys the benefit of being in a “thermal belt”, providing a moderate climate in all seasons.
The Town of Rutherfordton maintains four municipal parks to accommodate a broad spectrum of recreational activities from Little League baseball games to a family picnic under a canopy of shade trees next to a creek. The Rutherfordton Golf Club provides another alternative to relax and enjoy the beauty of the area. Area parks include Crestview Park, Kiwanis Park, 2nd Street Park, and Main Street Park.
Festivals & Events
Rutherfordton’s annual festivals draw enthusiastic crowds. MayFest in May offers art, live entertainment and children’s activities.
The Hilltop Fall Festival in October features a 5k run. The Tour de Pumpkin, the same weekend as the Hilltop festival, highlights cycling in North Carolina. The tour, sponsored by the Rutherford Outdoor Coalition, includes 100k and 50k rides and is among the most popular Western North Carolina biking events.
Farmers Tailgate Market
Rutherfordton is located 40 miles east of Asheville, NC on Highway 74/I-26 and is easily accessed from North Carolina Highways 74 and 64, and Interstates 85, 26 and 40.
Some Nearby History
Listen to the stories of the North Carolina Gold Rush, the Overmountain Victory Historic Trail, and the theory that Abraham Lincoln was born in North Carolina on these Living Traditions Moments audio vignettes.
North Carolina Gold
Overmountain Victory Historic Trail