Museums & History

Rich History In America's First Frontier

The Appalachians were "America's first frontier." Boone is known for the pioneers who explored and settled the area, who were often isolated and self-sufficient. Explore a collection of sites to appreciate this early American period of exploration.

Jump to: Museums in the Boone Area

 

INDIGENOUS INFLUENCE

Indigenous peoples of many tribes lived, traveled through, and hunted in the region for generations before the colonization of the land. Although much of the Native American population was devastated throughout colonization, their cultural influence remains today. The Blowing Rock geological formation and attraction is known for its legend about star-crossed Cherokee and Chickasaw lovers. See one of the largest private collections in the world at the Native American Artifacts Museum or experience today's traditions at the annual multi-tribal gathering, Trade Mill Native Heritage Days & Pow Wow

Daniel BooneDANIEL BOONE  

Daniel's love of wilderness and hunting brought him to the High Country. The real Daniel Boone hunted in the area (ca. 1767-1773), maintained a hunting camp, and even a cabin he used on forays from his home in the Yadkin River Valley below the Blue Ridge. The town of Meat Camp is the namesake of that hunting camp. Meat Camp Road now takes motorists to the entrance to Elk Knob State Park, where trails lead hikers to long-range vistas likely enjoyed by Daniel himself. 

Visit the Appalachian State University campus in Boone to see a statue of Daniel and his hunting dogs beside the Duck Pond on Rivers Street. Also on Rivers Street, a large monument to him is said to contain a chimney stone from his hunting cabin. Nearby, just outside the county courthouse on King Street, Daniel Boone is honored with a street-side bronze plaque, placed there many years ago by the Daniel Boone Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Other local markers commemorating Daniel Boone include the Boone Trail Highway Marker at Cove Creek and a D.A.R. marker in Zionville. Both markers are located west of Boone along Old U.S. 421 between Sugar Grove and the Tennessee state line. 

Daniel Boone's story is the topic of the Boone area's popular summer outdoor drama Horn in the West, which generally runs from late-June to August. This over-70-year-old historical spectacle is a must-see experience of summertime in the High Country - and a great way to add to your exploration of history. 

Download the two-page flyer with a map and site descriptions of places Daniel Boone visited in Watauga County. For more information on Daniel Boone's life and journeys throughout North Carolina, visit NC Daniel Boone Heritage TrailA rustic log cabin is between two tall trees at Hickory Ridge History Museum.

HISTORIC CABINS IN THE AREA

Hickory Ridge History Museum's stunning assortment of authentic log structures - from cabin homes to a springhouse, tavern, and blacksmith shop - convey a lifestyle of long ago. On the grounds of Horn in the West outdoor drama, this unique museum employs living history interpreters to recreate life in the past. They demonstrate blacksmithing, fiber spinning, tomahawk throwing, and candle making during the Horn in the West season.

The Blue Ridge Parkway's Brinegar Cabin at Doughton Park (Parkway milepost 238) is open to visitors with cultural demonstrations on the weekends in summer and fall. And the park's Caudill Cabin (dating to the 1890s) can be accessed by the 3.3-mile Basin Creek Trail, or spotted from above at Wildcat Rocks Overlook at milepost 241. From Tompkins Knob Parking Area in E.B. Jeffress Park* (milepost 272.5), take the dirt path into the woods to Jesse Brown's cabin, a late-nineteenth-century residence.

*EB Jeffress Park is currently inaccessible due to Blue Ridge Parkway construction.

BIRTH OF TRAVEL

Visitors started coming to the mountains to escape the southern heat in the late 1800s. You can check in to this heritage at classic accommodations such as the Green Park Inn (1882) in Blowing Rock. Visitors reached the hotel from Lenoir and Hickory by stagecoach.

The Green Park InnLinville became one of the nation's first planned resort communities in the 1880s, and the Eseeola Lodge opened in Linville in 1892. The resort was easily reached from Johnson City, Tennessee to the west via the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. Its shrill whistle earned it the beloved nickname "Tweetsie." To connect Eseeola to Blowing Rock and access from the east, the "Old Yonahlossee Road" was built as a stagecoach road connecting Linville from Blowing Rock. You can still drive this scenic byway as US 221, or the Little Parkway, today. It makes a great loop with the famous Linn Cove Viaduct section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Both of these historic hotels are still welcoming guests and have been in continuous operation since the 1800s. 

In Valle Crucis, NC's first rural historic district, The Mast Farm Inn's first house, the Loom House, dates back to 1810 and is the oldest inhabitable log cabin in the state. Make reservations to dine at the inn's Valle Tavern restaurant, or book your stay in any of the inn's four cottages and farmhouse rooms.

The Lovill House Inn is another historic property now welcoming guests for overnight stays. The Bed & Breakfast was built as a farmhouse in 1875 by Captain E.F. Lovill, and the home later became the site where the bill that established the Appalachian Training School was written (now Appalachian State University). Today, the bed & breakfast is a sustainable off-grid hideaway with 6 luxury rooms just a few minutes from downtown Boone.

A small building has a mural covering the entire wall depicting a black and white photo of a group gathered around a table smiling.THE JUNALUSKA COMMUNITY

The Junaluska community is one of the oldest, intact communities of color in western North Carolina. Beginning with free and enslaved individuals who settled in the area in the 1840s and 50s, the Boone Methodist Chapel was built in 1898. By 1918, the Junaluska neighborhood touted a Black primary school, several residences, and the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church. Throughout the hardships of segregation and racial inequality, the resilience of this community is a vital part of Boone's history. 

In 2016, at the request of the Junaluska Historic Association, the town of Boone surveyed the segregated Boone Cemetery and began improving the site, discovering 165 unmarked graves in the process. A marker with the names of 75 of the individuals buried there was erected in 2017. Another historic marker noting the significance of the community was placed in front of the Watauga County Library in 2022. A mural depicting the smiling patrons of The Chocolate Bar, once a thriving café and social club in the 1940s and 50s, can be found on North Street in downtown Boone.

The Jones HouseJOHN WALTER JONES: A DOWNTOWN DOCTOR

Located in the middle of downtown Boone, the Jones House was built in 1908 as a family home by Dr. John Walter Jones. Jones was one of the first physicians in the area and this family home was the location of his first office. Dr. Jones' wife, Mattie, was the daughter of Manly Blackburn, a prominent Boone merchant. After Dr. Jones' death, Mattie continued to live in the home until 1977 when she was 94. 

Her daughter, Mazie, inherited the home and, in 1983, sold it to the Town of Boone to be used as a cultural and community center. The house is now home to the Mazie Jones Gallery, a rotating art gallery named in memory of Mazie. Upstairs, two permanent galleries house exhibits on the history of Boone and the Jones House. The Jones House Cultural Center now hosts concerts throughout the year, old-time jams open to any passing musician, workshops, and other events throughout the year. 

A man leans against the door frame of an old cabin with a long rifle in one hand and a small hatchet lowered in the other hand. He's dressed in frontier garb with a wide brim hat.

A Historic Walking Tour of Downtown Boone

Take a stroll through downtown Boone's fascinating past, including landmarks from Daniel Boone's time in the area, the site of a quick and deadly Civil War skirmish, and one of the oldest surviving African American communities in Western North Carolina. See a performance at an art-deco...

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