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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Mountain Heritage Center

by Bruce E. Baker, 2006

The H. F. Robinson Administration Building at Western Carolina University. containing the Mountain Heritage Center. Imag from Flickr user Kolin Toney.The Mountain Heritage Center, located at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, is a museum focusing on the natural and cultural history and heritage of western North Carolina and the southern Appalachian region. The museum houses one permanent exhibit, Migration of the Scotch-Irish People. It produces a variety of temporary exhibits that illustrate the natural world and mountain societies, past and present. Themes have included blacksmithing traditions in the mountains, Cherokee myths and legends, mountain trout, the natural and cultural history of an Appalachian watershed, baskets and their makers, and the enduring popularity of hand-woven coverlets and the southern Appalachian handicraft movement.

The Mountain Heritage Center also offers educational programs to the public, presents concerts and lectures, and produces books, tapes, and other materials. The center's largest annual event is Mountain Heritage Day, which is held on the last Saturday in September and boasts a full schedule of traditional music, dance, and craft demonstrations. A midway features some 200 craft booths offering handmade items ranging from woodwork and pottery to quilts and stained glass along with food booths offering traditional treats such as cider, barbecue, and Cherokee fry bread.

Additional Resources:

Mountain Heritage Center official website: (accessed October 25, 2012).

"Mountain Heritage Center." North Carolina Folklife Institute. (accessed October 25, 2012).

"Western Carolina University Mountain Heritage Center." (accessed October 25, 2012).

Image Credits:

Toney, Kolin. "Administration Building @ Western Carolina University." Cullowhee, N.C. July 12, 2010. Flickr user Kolin Toney.  (accessed October 25, 2012).

Origin - location: 

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