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Upcoming Events

Join us virtually and in-person for exciting educational events exploring the history of Western North Carolina.

OUR PROGRAMS

Museum

Our museum is temporarily closed for interior renovations. Please visit our virtual exhibits by clicking here.

Exhibits

Visit our virtual exhibits, 1918 vs. 2020, Hillbillyland, Deep Dive into Archives, and Douglas Ellington. Check back regularly as we make more content available digitally.

Special Events

We offer a variety of events throughout the year. Join us for LitCafe, History Hour, Outdoor Experiences, our Intro to WNC History Lecture Series, and more!

Awards

We have annually presented the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary and Outstanding Achievement awards since 1955.

Youth Programs

Area educators can check out one of our many traveling trunks or bring their students to our museum for guided tours and lessons.

Collections

Our archival and object collections rotate on and off display in our period rooms and changing exhibits.

1882 Cowee Tunnel Disaster heroism, mistaken identity

“To shorten a bend in the Tuckasegee River just west of Dillsboro, the (Western North Carolina Railroad) planned Cowee Tunnel. Each day hundreds of convicts, camped along the east bank of the stream, were ferried across to the site of the cutting. ... On that fateful...

MLK’s trips to Black Mountain & Montreat

“I had the privilege of meeting Martin Luther King (in 1964),” Black Mountain resident Inez Daughtery recalled in an early 2000s interview. “And he talked to me at length about the things he was going through and the things he was doing. And he told me … ‘Mrs....

Who was the dead swindler on a pedestal in an Asheville funeral home?

On Friday, Oct. 28, 1904, an Englishman “of refinement and culture” died in a boarding house on Montford Avenue in Asheville. His death certificate, noting a death date of Nov. 10, 1902, was not completed until May 18, 1910. The local health official noted in 1910...

WNC History: The Revolutionary journeys of 2 young WNC women

The Glades as it appeared c1950 after many additions. The section on the left is the original home.   “Disguised as an old woman, and riding horseback, she went from her home … near the Catawba River (in North Carolina) to the Fort at Ninety-Six, South Carolina....

WNC History: Story behind the accused murderer in 1936 Battery Park Hotel homicide

“I don’t know whether my brother Tom will get here tomorrow for my body or not. Tonight’s his night off,” 22-year-old Martin Moore, a tall and lanky Black man, mumbled to the cadre of reporters stationed outside the bars of his cell in Raleigh’s Central Prison. It was...

WNC History: Story behind the WWII detainee camps at Grove Park Inn, Montreat Assembly Inn

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1942, and the resulting interment of predominantly Japanese American citizens or residents from the West Coast into camps scattered across the California...

WNC History: Bettie Sims was not a typical moonshiner

“I didn’t set fire to the jail,” Bettie Sims calmly told a representative from The Charlotte Observer on Dec. 11, 1906. The reporter had tracked down the 29-year-old Polk County native the day before she was to appear on bond in front of a federal judge on charges of,...

WNC History: Rumbling Bald was rumbling in 1874

The mountains of Western North Carolina occasionally experience earthquakes and seismic activity. These instances often pass without much notice or damage. In 1874, however, the mountains at the eastern edge of the Hickory Nut Gorge — along the northern arm of modern...

WNC History: A trek of self-liberation from Asheville to Tennessee

On Tuesday evening, Sept. 14, 1819, Bob, a 14-year-old “familiar artful fellow … (with) a good countenance” liberated himself from his captor, James Smith, in Asheville. He traveled north along the Buncombe Turnpike toward Paint Mountain and into Tennessee. Bob took...

WNC History: Incarcerated laborers on railroad attempted freedom

“A female convict on the (Western North Carolina Railroad), emptied a phial of sulphuric acid into the coffee of Mr. Griffin, the newly appointed Steward, but he did not like the taste, so the poison did no damage,” reads a blurb in the Sunday, April 15, 1877, edition...

October 3, 1880: First Passenger Train to Asheville

On this day in WNC history: On October 3, 1880, the first passenger rail service arrived in Asheville at a small station along modern Depot Street. The engineer and passengers were greeted by clamoring onlookers. During the mid-1800s, train service becoming...

October 2, 1866: 2nd Freedmen’s Convention

On this day in WNC history: Convening in the St. Paul AME Church in Raleigh, African American representatives from seven WNC counties joined the second Freedmen’s Convention on this day in 1866. In the 1865 Freedmen’s Convention almost all representatives came from...

September 26, 1923: Spruce Pine Mob

September 26, 1923: One of the most visible incidents of racial terror and intimidation in WNC began on this day in 1923 near the small town of Spruce Pine in Mitchell County. The terror inflicted had parallels with other contemporary violence such as the Tula...

September 16, 1896: William Jennings Bryan Campaigns in WNC

September 16: Dubbed “the greatest event, politically at least, in the history of Asheville and Western North Carolina” by the Asheville Citizen, the famed populist William Jennings Bryan made a presidential campaign appearance in WNC on this day in 1896. He appears...

September 11, 1987: Blue Ridge Parkway Completed

On this day in WNC history: After years of debate, revisions, construction, and even a bomb threat during the ceremony, the Blue Ridge Parkway was officially completed when the Linn Cove Viaduct was dedicated in 1987. This viaduct, sitting on the slope of Grandfather...

September 1, 1929: Beaucatcher Tunnel Opens

On this day in WNC history: One of the most famous Asheville landmarks opened (unofficially) on this day in 1929 as over 7,000 cars drove through the new Beaucatcher Tunnel. Beaucatcher Mountain long served as an eastern boundary for the growing city of Asheville....

August 8, 1913: Chestnut Blight

On this day in WNC history: On August 8, 1913, the Jackson County Journal reported the dangerous “Chestnut tree bark disease” destroying timber in the Northeast and threatening the forests of southern Appalachia. With a recently discovered case in Guilford County, NC,...

July 30, 1943: Road to Nowhere

On this day in WNC history: During a period of immense change and wartime sacrifices, a promise was made to residents of Swain County in 1943 to build a road around the new Fontana Lake. The federal commitment ultimately ended with much lingering consternation and a...

July 13, 1962: New Asheville Speedway Opens

On this day in WNC history: Engines roared and an estimated 5,000 fans cheered drivers as NASCAR first visited the “New” Asheville Speedway on this evening in 1962. By this point, racing fever had swept across many parts of the country. We have previously detailed...

July 10, 1915: George Masa Arrives in WNC

On this day in WNC history: Travelling overland by train from San Francisco to St. Louis, and ultimately to Asheville, Masahara Izuka arrived in WNC for the first time on this day in 1915. We typically know him better by his adopted name – George Masa. Masa was a...