The Museum of North Carolina Minerals highlights the rich mineral resources and the mining heritage of this portion of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge. The museum is open year round and is education-based, interactive, and experiential for children and adults. Discover hands-on, interactive exhibits that explore the creation of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a wide variety of minerals.
These exhibits include:
- A video featuring High-Speed re-creations of the Grand Collision, starring Ancestral Africa and North America, the crucial mountain-building episode for the Appalachian Mountains.
- A Rock-Morphing Machine. This machine “turns up the head,” simulating the effects of heat and pressure in formulating metamorphic rocks.
- A mineral that responds to ultra-violet light is said to fluoresce. Visitors may turn on the black light and see what glows.
The Museum also hosts a visitor center for the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce, with information on local businesses, attractions, lodging, food, and more. A gift shop featuring souvenirs and books on Western North Carolina is located in the museum.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
This low notch in the mountains, called Gillespie Gap, is also significant for other reasons. Late in the American Revolution, frontiersmen from the mountains known as the “Overmountain Men” crossed the Blue Ridge here on their way to decisive engagement at Kings Mountain, South Carolina, one of the pivotal American victories over the British. The event is celebrated annually in mid-September with uniformed reenactors, cultural demonstrations, and educational programs.
The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, stretching 330 miles through four states (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina), traces the route used by patriot militia during the pivotal Kings Mountain campaign of 1780. Follow the campaign by utilizing a commemorative motor route which uses existing state highways marked with the distinctive trail logo, or 87 miles of walkable pathways.