The History Museum

of Burke County


The History Museum welcomes donations of artifacts of our culture and heritage.  Burke County’s story spans thousands of years from the time Native Americans lived and hunted in this region. In 1567 Spanish soldiers under Captain Juan Pardo constructed Fort San Juan near present day Morganton. In the early 1700s traders, missionaries and settlers arrived. Burke County was established June 1, 1777. The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a gold rush and the rise of timber, textile and furniture industries and an influx of state institutions.

The Museum’s collections represent a small part of the story.

The History Museum presents the history of Burke County across several eras.  One area is dedicated to the story of the Revolutionary War and includes Burke County’s participants.

The History Museum houses an exhibit for the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. It commemorates the campaign of the Overmountain men and the backcounty patriot militia from today’s Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in their pursuit of British Major Patrick Ferguson to what became the Battle of Kings Mountain, October 7, 1780.

Burke County sites include the McDowell House at Quaker Meadows, the Quaker Meadows Cemetery, and the Council Oak marker.

A United States military exhibit includes uniforms from all branches of service and a collection with hundreds of scale-models of aircraft related to a century of aviation history.

The History Museum RR Depot exhibit allows visitors to step back in time to a world where steam and diesel trains moved and maintained life in Burke County.  The Western North Carolina Railroad was built to a location just outside Morganton in 1863.  The Morganton train depot was built in 1886 to bring the railroad to Morganton.  In 2004, the depot was restored to its 1916 appearance.  It is owned by the City of Morganton and is operated by The History Museum of Burke County.