Museums / Heritage Sites
Benjamin F. Long Fresco
When Long was commissioned to decorate the ceiling in the atrium of the City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium, he selected the nine muses because of their legendary role in inspiring all human endeavors in the arts and sciences.
From This Day Forward- Fred B. Cranford Amphitheatre
One of the top outdoor dramas in North Carolina, this production is presented annually at the Fred B. Cranford Amphitheatre – mid July through mid-August and tells the story of the Waldensians and their escape from religious persecution in Italy to how they founded the town of Valdese.
Historic Burke County Courthouse
Stepping into Burke County’s Historical courthouse is like stepping back in time. Listen intently and you can almost hear the shots fired by William Waightstill Avery, one of Burke Countys best-known lawyers, as he shot and killed Samuel Fleming in 1851.
McDowell House at Quaker Meadows
The McDowell House at Quaker Meadows Plantation, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is believed to be the oldest surviving brick structure in Burke County.
Morganton Railroad Depot & Museum
Restored to its 1916 appearance, The Depot Museum contains an extensive collection of 19th and 20th century railroad memorabilia, including a 100-piece collection of dining car tableware, a brass bell and a head lamp from the age of steam locomotives.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail commemorates the patriot unification, march and battles leading up to the Battle of Kings Mountain. Portions of the trail can be visited in any season. It includes sections of walk-able pathway, a Commemorative Motor Route, affiliated historic sites and museums, and wayside exhibits.
Piedmont and Western Railroad Museum
Founded in July of 1988, the Piedmont & Western Model Railroad Club has combined the talents and passions of local railroad enthusiasts to create a fictitious rail line serving Western North Carolina. The HO scale railroad runs from Marion, NC to Leadvale, TN, carrying loads across the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Total trackage covers over 1,000 feet.
Quaker Meadows Cemetery
The cemetery is the earliest identified site associated with white settlement in western North Carolina. The cemetery is locked and gated, but access can be obtained from the Historic Burke Foundation located inside the historic Burke County courthouse in downtown Morganton.
In honor of Valdese celebrating 125 years since their founding in 1893, the Valdese Public Arts Commission and the Town of Valdese have come together to create a commemorative art piece that will be located across from Valdese Town Hall on Massel Avenue. The art installation depicts the arrival of the original Waldensian settlers who came to Valdese on May 29th, 1893 as they departed the “No. 11” train at the Valdese Depot. The installation was created by the artists of Oak Hill Iron & Wood of Morganton and was designed by local artist Greg Mastin.
The History Museum of Burke County
The History Museum of Burke County is a delightful surprise to anyone visiting the area. See how Lake James was built and other fascinating exhibits including hundred of model airplanes and a very unique Civil War Room. Admission is FREE.
Waldensian Heritage Museum
Founded by the Waldensian Presbyterian Church and opened to the public in 1974, the museum offers artifacts and special exhibits remembering the early Italian settlers that founded Valdese in the late 1800s.