The History Museum of Burke County
The History Museum of Burke County showcases the region's cultural and military history, from Native Americans to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to Watergate.
Backstory and Context
The History Museum of Burke County has been a center of local history in Morganton, NC since 2003. It has two buildings: The History Museum and the RR Depot Museum on 624 South Green Street. The latter concentrates on railroad history in the county.
In addition to a gift and book shop that has materials relating both to history and prehistory in the area, the museum provides genealogical resources in its North Carolina Room. Though based in Morganton, the museum's focus is on the entire county. Exhibits emphasize contemporary local connections to the larger history of the United States.
The museum has both temporary and permanent collections. One of its most significant is dedicated to the Battle of Kings Mountain during the Revolutionary War, centered around a meeting by the Patriots in 1780 at the Council Oak at Quaker Meadows before the battle. There is also a collection on display of prehistoric Native American artifacts and an exhibit devoted to the Colonial period, as well as a wall of maps covering the Civil War in the region.
The 20th century section features a great deal of material culture, particularly regarding textiles, women's culture and the military. Several rooms are devoted to this period. One of the most significant and original exhibits is an entire room of objects and documents dedicated to Watergate. Hometown hero Sam Ervin, who was appointed to lead the Senate Watergate Committee that investigated the Watergate scandal, was born in Morganton.
Be warned: Though the one-story museum building is relatively small and unimposing, there is a great deal inside. Expect to spend a few hours to see it all.