Facebook Tracking Pixel

Cherokee Heritage Festival

A fall celebration of Cherokee culture in Clay County

The Cherokee Heritage Festival is an event that residents and area visitors look forward to each year. The popular annual festival takes place on the third Saturday every September on the grounds of the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit in Hayesville. 

The festival includes a variety of Cherokee crafts and their makers who demonstrate traditional native crafts. Watch as members of the Eastern Band show off their skills in basket and finger weaving, pottery sculpting, bead working, woodcarving, flint knapping, blowgun crafting, and arrow making. Their work is on view and for sale with artists there to discuss their work. The afternoon is a celebration of dancing, storytelling, and music, as well as activities for children. Tribal members cook up authentic Cherokee cuisine, such as the ever-popular fry bread with all the fixings. 

The festival is held at the site of the outdoor Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, which features traditional Cherokee homes as they would have appeared in the 17th century. The recreated village site includes a summer house, winter house, food storage crib, and shelter. Adjacent to the exhibit is the Cherokee Botanical Sanctuary with waysides describing plants used traditionally as medicine, food, and supplies to make household items and weaponry. The festival has featured a plant walk-and-talk as well as a native plant scavenger hunt. 

Passing through the Sanctuary is the Quanassee Path, a two-mile Cherokee history trail. Follow the path to Spikebuck Mound and Quanassee village, an important stop along a historic trading route from Charleston, South Carolina to eastern Tennessee. The path winds back to Hayesville and the Cherokee Cultural Center, located in Moss Memorial Library.

Cherokee Cultural Center

Learn about Cherokee crafts, culture before walking the Quanassee Path

A good place to start a venture along Clay County’s Quanassee Path is to visit the Cherokee Cultural Center at the Moss Memorial Library in downtown Hayesville. There is plenty of parking and an easy stop to become acquainted with Cherokee culture and pick up a brochure to learn about other offerings in town. The library site includes a large case with historic and contemporary artifacts, as well as a wide array of books and historic maps describing Cherokee history and culture.  

The display includes a selection of stone tools, including projectile points and a grooved axe. Games were always popular with Cherokee people and the display includes stone and clay discs used in a game called “chunkey.” Chunkey was played by rolling disc-shaped stones across the ground and throwing spears at them in an attempt to place the spear as close to the stopped stone as possible. A set of ballsticks represents the still-popular game of stickball, a rough-and-tumble team sport. 

Historic and contemporary crafts make up much of the exhibit, from Pisgah Phase pottery to contemporary objects. Pisgah pottery was made around 1000 AD. The pottery displays the Cherokee traditional practice of paddle stamping. Potters used carved wood paddles to impart decoration on the outsides of their pots, a practice that compressed the clay and added to the pot’s density and strength. 

Perhaps, the Cherokee’s most popular craft are their baskets. Traditionally made from rivercane, the display includes a collection of rivercane baskets made by Snowbird artist, Emma Garret. Davy Arch is a well-known artist represented by a grouping of carved masks. An engaging storyteller, he worked for many years at the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee. 

The Cherokee Cultural Center is framed by large photographs of two notable Cherokee people. Sequoyah was the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, an alphabet that makes up their spoken and written language. The late Diamond Brown was a performer and keeper of Cherokee culture who served on Tribal Council as the Snowbird representative. 

The Quanassee Path is a two-mile Cherokee history trail with five locations. Starting at the Cherokee Cultural Center in the library, the path leads to the outdoor Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, Cherokee Botanical Sanctuary, Old Jail Museum, and Quanassee village, the site of the Spikebuck Mound.

Hours are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.

South Mountain Art Co-op

Explore ancient native villages and new crafts in Burke County

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, Burke County is home to Joara, an ancient settlement where Native Americans encountered Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto in 1540. The Berry site near Morganton, NC, have been excavated by archaeologists,  revealing long-buried information that literally rewrites our understanding of  American history.

In 2017, the county became home to the South Mountain Co-op, an arts studio located in the Salem Community, south of Morganton. The co-op provides the people of Morganton with a place where they can learn about art and practice their craft.  Every week the South Mountain Co-op hosts an open figure session. They engage a model so members can draw from a live figure. Throughout the year, the co-op hosts a series of salon Fridays when members get together to make art supplies, like charcoal or painting supports. Occasionally, the salon includes a special opening or talk by an artist. Salon Fridays  include wine, dinner, and hors d’oeurvres.  

The co-op is also a go-to stop for art supplies. They sell handmade artist materials such as gesso painting boards, charcoal, conte, and pen and ink. Their space includes a gallery featuring area artists and a large studio space.  

For hours and news, visit their Facebook page.

Stecoah Drive-About Tour

Drive around ancient Cherokee lands to see new crafts

Stecoah Drive-About Tour begins at the site of its home, the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center. The Center is located in the historic Stecoah Union School building, built of native rock using the skill and labor of many local residents. The school welcomed its first students in the fall of 1926. On Dedication Day, the proud community posed for a panoramic photograph that is on display in the school’s auditorium. The main building burned shortly after completion and was reconstructed within the same rock walls. It reopened in 1930 and, today, remains a solid stone structure surrounded by approximately 10 acres of natural mountain land. After 68 years of service, the school was closed in consolidation in 1994.  

The name Stecoah is derived from the Cherokee language. The term “Usdi Gohi,” meaning “little place” was applied to many places by the Cherokee, but here the words became “Stecoah” and the name stuck.  

To honor that legacy, the Center has created the Courtyard of the Cherokee, an outdoor arts and culture exhibit that authentically represents the seven clans of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The exhibit is intended to educate and bring awareness to the public about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, especially the Snowbird Community in Graham County. The courtyard’s focal point is an Eternal Flame sculpture that features hammered copper elements that depict the seven clans and the Cherokee legend of the spider attached to a steel flame base. Interpretive exhibit panels bring awareness of the Cherokee syllabary, the written language of the Cherokee people. The exhibit headers are translated into the Snowbird dialect which is different from the Cherokee dialect. Native plants surround the space. 

Throughout the year, the Arts Center celebrates mountain traditions through its artisan gallery, programs, festivals, workshops, and other events that appeal to all age groups. One highlight of its offerings is its two-day Drive-About Studio Tours, held annually in June and November. On Drive-About days, local artisans welcome visitors to their studios and galleries. A printed drive-about brochure is available at the Stecoah Artisans Gallery.  

The Stecoah Valley Art Center also sponsors the Quilt Trails of Graham County, a separate driving tour that takes visitors to 15 barns adorned with colorful painted quilt blocks. A brochure and website guide visitors to the multiple stops along the tour.

Cowee School Arts and Heritage Center

Historic rock school resurrected as craft destination

In the 1940s, work began on a school that today stands as the Cowee School Arts and Heritage Center. Constructed by the federal Works Progress Administration, the school was built entirely from local stone. The  Cowee School opened to students in 1943, serving thousands of students until it was closed in 2012. Now re-opened as the Cowee School Arts and Heritage Center, the site continues to serve as an institution of learning, an outdoor venue, and host to a number of affiliates, classrooms, and programs. Among those programs are the Cowee Pottery School and Cowee Textiles. 

The Cowee Pottery School serves those who have always wanted to get their hands muddy and create pottery, to play in clay. The school offers a range of an opportunity for independent study and pottery classes with difficulty levels ranging from introductory to experienced. Students purchase their clay from the school and have use of the wheels and kiln. Independent self-directed students have the use of the studio during open studio hours. 

Cowee Textiles began operating out of the school in 2013. Its goal is to pass on the art of weaving and spinning. The program teaches the textile arts from the basic fiber to finished products. There are multiple looms set up and weaving lessons offered. Students can make a rug or table running during a three-hour class. Once a month, Cowee Textiles hosts Fiber Sunday, where students, visitors, and residents can gather and share their love of working with fiber. 

Cowee’s long history of culture

Located just north of Franklin, the historic community of Cowee was an important Cherokee commercial center.

Blacksmithing at Cowee

In the late 1700s, William Bartram came through the area and took note of the size and sophistication of the town. A large mound and a council house occupied the center of the town. From there, houses lined both banks of the Little Tennessee River and Cherokee planters grew the “three sisters:” corn, beans, and squash. A smaller Cherokee village, Usinah, was located at the eastern end of the historic district. Cowee became part of the State of North Carolina in 1819, when the Cherokees were forced off their land. 

Movement into the area increased around 1820 when William West took title to the land along Cowee Creek. West built a gristmill for his family and community. West’s Mill thrived through the first half of the 20th century, with most residents farming, mining, or logging. To serve the growing community, stores, schools, churches, and a post office were built, many of which still stand today. The Cowee-West’s Mill National Register Historic District encompasses 370 acres of Cherokee and settlement history. 

A diversity of population continued at Cowee, when during the Civil War, Cowee became home to both freedmen and slaves. In the census of 1900, Cowee was the largest rural, black community in west of the Balsam Mountains. African American history can still be traced to the small Pleasant Hill AME Church and cemetery in the northeast corner of the historic district. 

Much later, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a camp on this site. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established in 1933 as a public works program during the Great Depression under newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR used existing agencies—the departments of War, Labor, Interior, and Agriculture—to quickly launch the program. Within 6 months of FDR’s inauguration, there were 250,000 recruits. By the time of its closure in 1942, the CCC had provided paid work, vocational education, food, shelter, and clothing for 3 million young men.  

For hours and details on upcoming concerts and workshops, visit www.coweeschool.org.



Waynesville is the largest city west of Asheville. It is Haywood County’s oldest town and the Haywood County seat, framed by mountain vistas, vast national forest lands and clear, rushing streams.  It is also where team square dancing originated in the 1930s.

Early History

The Town of Waynesville was founded in 1809 by Colonel Robert Love, a Revolutionary War soldier. He donated land for the courthouse, jail and public square, and named the town after his commander in the war, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.  The Town of Waynesville was incorporated in 1871.

For many years visitors have traveled to Waynesville to enjoy the cool clean air, clean water, outstanding scenery and an opportunity to escape the crowded cities.

Waynesville Today

Although it is a small town, Waynesville is filled with entertainment and culture. Downtown Waynesville is on the National Registry of Historic Places, a vibrant, friendly small downtown located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with nearby access to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Main Street’s tree lined brick sidewalks offer pedestrian access to fine shops, galleries, cafés and restaurants. Historic buildings, relaxing benches, public art, and welcoming folks make Waynesville an enjoyable place to live and visit.

Parks, Museums and Arts Centers

Founded in 1977, The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts at the Shelton House is a repository and cultural exhibit preserving and displaying traditional crafts by some of the states’ most renowned artisans.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Charleston style farmhouse was built in 1875 for Stephen Jehu Shelton, a Civil War veteran and Haywood County sheriff.  Exhibits include period furnishings and antiques, folk art, and collections of pottery, wood carving, basketry, metalwork, weaving, quilting, marquetry and other fine crafts. Open May-October.

The award-winning Haywood Arts Regional Theater features a full schedule of performances. Widely known as one of the finest community theaters in the southeast, the theater presents shows on the main stage at the Shelton House, April through December, and in the Feichter Studio, January through April.

Ten to twelve rotating artists’ exhibits are shown annually at the Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86, a creative showcase on Main Street in the historic downtown. Special music and art events are held there throughout the year.

The town of Waynesville has many parks and greenways that afford visitors and residents alike the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and beatuiful scenery of the area.

Festivals and Events

  • On the first Friday each month between May and December, Downtown Waynesville Galleries remain open until 9 pm for  “Art After Dark,” with demonstrations, artist receptions, and music.
  • Mountain Street Dances enliven downtown Waynesville on four summer Friday nights.  Put on your clogging and square dancing shoes and enjoy an old-fashioned mountain hoe down at the historic County Courthouse! Live mountain music, demonstrations and instruction by local clogging teams.
  • In July, Waynesville goes international, hosting Folkmoot USA, the State International Festival of North Carolina.  This two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance beings with a parade of nationns down Main Street featuring performances, a parade and workshops. Performers demonstrate their cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and traditional music.
  • On Labor Day Weekend the annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, held at Stuart Auditorium at nearby Lake Junaluska, offers two nights of the finest traditional music and dance of the Southern Appalachian Region.
  • The Church Street Art and Craft Show is held in October on Main Street in downtown. Now in its 30th year, this event showcases the area’s arts, craft and music heritage.

Tailgate Farmers Markets

The Waynesville Farmers Market is open May through October, held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings on Legion Drive, just off Main Street.  Vendors offer fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers grown in Haywood County.


Waynesville is easily accessed from Interstate 40/US 74 on the north, and US 23/74 from the south.  Parkway travelers can take the Waynesville exit at Balsam Gap.

Downtown Waynesville Association

Haywood Country Tourism
800-334-9036, 828-452-0152

Haywood County Visitor Center
44 N Main
Waynesville, NC

Old Jail Museum

Preserving the legacy and crafts of Clay County’s long history

As its name would suggest, the Old Jail Museum is located in Clay County’s old jail in a building that sits high on a hill on the way to Hayesville’s town square. Built with concrete and cement bricks made on location, the building was a modern and efficiently functioning structure at the time of its construction in 1912Today, the brick structure houses the Old Jail Museum and the Clay County Historical and Arts Council.

Originally, the sheriff and his family occupied the west end of the building, with two bedrooms above and a parlor and bedroom below. The kitchen and dining room were located in the space now utilized as an art exhibition area on the first floor. The building originally had no electricity, light being provided by kerosene lamps.  

Piquing most visitors’ interest are the old jail cells, still intact, on the second floor. Large iron bars surround the two small cells, outfitted as they once were, with toilet, sink, and bunk. Visiting is enough to keep on one the straight and narrow. 

Visitors will enjoy the many pictures of life as it was in the old days, school house artifacts, a collection of farm equipment and Indian artifacts from a local excavation.

The museum also includes rare collections of Cherokee baskets, quilts, masks, and other carvings, and an exquisite life-size model of a Cherokee basketweaver.

Attached to the museum is the actual office of Dr. Paul Killian, a beloved turn of the century doctor in Clay County.  The office contains his desk, medical implements, log books, saddle bags, and other items used by the doctor.

The museum is also next door to the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit. Visit the Homestead to learn about their ancient history and the Cherokee way of life in this reconstructed 17th – 18th century village homestead.

For hours and news of other current events, visit the website. 

Cherokee Homestead Exhibit

Revisit life in a reconstructed Cherokee summer and winter home

The Cherokee and their ancestors have called Western North Carolina home for more than 10,000 years. Learn about their ancient history and the Cherokee way of life in this reconstructed 17th – 18th century village homestead exhibit.

The Cherokee Homestead Exhibit is one of many Cherokee Heritage sites that are outside of the Qualla Boundary and town of Cherokee, NC. The Homestead Exhibit is open air and accessible 24/7.

It includes a Cherokee summer house, a winter house, food storage crib and more in this free, self-guided tour. The site also features interpretive signs and two walls with public art representing Cherokee legends and stories.

To learn more watch, “The Hayesville Cultural Heritage Site,” a short documentary about the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, spearheaded by the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association (CCCRA).

More Cherokee Heritage Exhibits Nearby

Learn more about the rich Cherokee heritage in the Clay County Historical and Arts Museum, located in the historic county jail adjacent to the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit.

Rare Cherokee baskets, quilts, masks and other carvings, and an exquisite life-size model of a Cherokee basketweaver are among the artifacts on exhibit.

Spikebuck Mound, the location of the Quannasee Village council house, another Cherokee Heritage site, is located nearby at the Clay County Veterans Recreation Park.


Yancey History Association and Rush Wray Musuem


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 Yancey History Association was formed in 1979 and by 1989 had purchased the the McElroy House museum and the 1920’s gas station Chamber of Commerce-Visitors Center. 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.

Annex Building
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.

Admission Fees
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.

Valle Crucis

The tiny village of Valle Crucis is perched in a valley high in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains near Boone. Archaeological explorations of the nearby Watauga River have revealed evidence of 10,000 years of human habitation.

Its modern history really began with a visit to the valley by a New York botanist in 1840. So enchanted was he by the luxurious natural beauty of the area that he stopped in Raleigh on his way home and met with Episcopal Archbishop Levi Silliman Ives to share his impressions.

Bishop Ives had been searching for a location to establish a mountain mission, and in July 1842, he made his first trip to the region. Upon seeing three creeks intersecting to form a cross, he named the area Valle Crucis, Latin for Vale of the Cross. The history of the town of Valle Crucis was heavily influenced for the next century and a half by the evolution of Ives’s Episcopalian mission.

Mast Farm & General Store

Alongside the Episcopalian ministry grew a prospering farming community, anchored by the Mast Farm, est. 1812, which is today part of the Mast Farm Inn complex. The Mast Farm became a popular tourist inn by 1915.

In 1883, Henry Taylor opened a general store in Valle Crucis and also added rooms to his family home to accommodate travelers. In 1897, Taylor sold half interest in the store to an employee, W.W. Mast. The store was known at the Taylor and Mast General Store until 1913, when Mast purchased the entire business, and it became Mast General Store.

For the next 60 years, the Mast family not only carried merchandise needed by residents and visitors in Valle Crucis, but also provided a place of community, with neighbors gathering around the pot-bellied stove. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. After its sale that same year, it went through several owners until it was purchased in 1979. The present owners have built upon traditions set by the Mast family. Today, there are 9 Mast General Stores throughout the Southern Appalachian region.

National Register Historic Rural Community

The entire Valle Crucis community is on the National Register of Historic Places as an historic rural community since 2004, and when the historic district was established in the 1990s, it was the only one in a rural area recognized by the state of North Carolina. Several more buildings in the community are on this National Register of Historic Places including the Mast Farm Inn and the Valle Crucis Conference Center.

Other buildings date back to the late 1790s (the Baird House Bed and Breakfast) and the early 1900s including the Taylor House Inn and Alta Vista Gallery. What is now the Mast Store Annex was once a competing general store known as the Watauga Supply Company and later the Valle Crucis Company. Those in the local area simply referred to it as the Farthing Store because of its long-time manager and later owner Aubyn Farthing. It was constructed in 1909.

Through the designation of the historic district, Valle Crucis maintains its rural agrarian character and welcomes visitors from near and far.

Festivals & Events

Valle Crucis Community Park Auction – the Saturday before Labor Day Saturday – The Valle Crucis Community Park is a true community park in the biggest sense of the word. Each year, the volunteers put together an auction featuring gift certificates, antiques, locally-baked cakes, event tickets, fun and more to raise funds to support the park that parallels the Watauga River.

Valle Country Fair – Always the third Saturday in October – This little slice of Americana features over 125 craft vendors, food booths, and the world famous apple butter gang. Local entertainment ranging from storytellers and cloggers to poetry readings and music take the stage from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the field right across from the Valle Crucis Conference Center. Sponsored by the Holy Cross Episcopal Church, all funds raised from this down home event go back into the local community through grants given to social services. 828-963-4609.

Valle Crucis Punkin Festival – Always the fourth Saturday in October – This kid-friendly festival is big on fun. Featuring food, crafts, music, old-fashioned games, and punkin carving, the Punkin Festival is a fundraiser for the Western Youth Network and the Valle Crucis Elementary School. Get your face painted or parents and kids can both participate in no muss, no fuss punkin carving. Why punkin? Because it’s so much more fun than pumpkin!

Farmers Tailgate Market

Located behind the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, the market offers flowers, canned goods, vegetables, baked goods, and crafts available every Friday from 2-6 pm from June until September.

For more information

Sheri Moretz, Mast General Store

Tom Hinson, Baird House
(800) 297-1342

Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center

The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville, North Carolina features an award-winning film and exhibits which highlight the natural and cultural heritage, economic traditions, and recreational opportunities found in Western North Carolina and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The visitor center houses a 70-seat theater, information and orientation services, and a retail shop offering books, apparel, CDs, DVDs, collectibles, souvenirs, and children’s items. It is also the site of numerous special events. Call 828-298-5330, ext. 303, for information on upcoming events here.

See the Movie

The Blue Ridge Parkway—America’s Favorite Journey, a 24-minute film shown in high definition surround sound, uses breathtaking aerial photography and the story of a father-daughter motorcycle trip to introduce visitors to the natural and cultural heritage of the mountains and the history of the construction of the Parkway. It features craft artisans and traditional musicians from the region.

Tour the Green Building

The building itself reflects the cutting edge of energy-saving technology. The LEED-certified structure incorporates active/passive heating and cooling, radiant floor heating, a “green” roof, and other energy efficient features.

Exhibits focus on the history and heritage of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Western North Carolina. The visitor center also houses interactive kiosks which provide information on places to visit.

Plan Your Blue Ridge Mountains Vacation

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area staffs a regional visitor information desk and has its offices in the building. The Blue Ridge Parkway also staffs an information desk with rangers on duty to answer travel questions about the Parkway.

Hike on the Parkway and Mountains-to-Sea Trail

A 1.2 mile loop trail starts from the parking lot of the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center and joins the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. This is a moderate 45-minute hike, great for stretching legs after a road trip.

Hours of Operation

Hours of operation are from 9 am to 5 pm daily, year-round.

The visitor center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.


The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center is located at Parkway milepost 384, which is about a mile south of the US 70 intersection (or one mile north of the US 74-A intersection) and about 8 miles east of downtown Asheville. The Folk Art Center is located nearby, two miles to the north along the Parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center
Parkway Milepost 384
195 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803
(828) 298-5330

Cherokee County Historical Museum

Celebrating Cherokee traditions and pioneer days

The Cherokee County Historical Museum displays the rich history of Native American and pioneer settlers in the far-western corner of the state. The museum is housed in a historic Carnegie Library building in downtown Murphy.

The Museum’s exhibits include:

• a collection of over 2,000 Cherokee artifacts, assembled over a span of fifty years by local resident Arthur Palmer
• 40 exhibit panels with drawings and photographs that interpret local Cherokee history and culture
• antique farm implements and vintage household items (many hand-made) used by early pioneer settlers in the county
• over 700 collectible dolls, donated by local resident Louise Kilgore

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail 

The museum serves as an interpretive center for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Murphy was  the site of Fort Butler, one of the main holding areas for Cherokees who were being removed from North Carolina in the 1830’s. Other sites in and around Murphy play a prominent role in Cherokee history, mythology, and culture.

The museum houses a replica of the log cabin dwellings used by the Cherokee residents of the area at the time of their removal. This type of dwelling was also typical of that used by pioneer settlers, many of whom moved into the vacated Cherokee cabins.

In front of the building rests an ancient stone turtle carved from soapstone that is associated with a Cherokee creation legend.

For hours, fees and other news, visit their Facebook page

Cherokee County Historical Museum
87 Peachtree Street
Murphy, NC 28906
(828) 837-6792