The Rural Heritage Museum 

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The Rural Heritage Museum hours are 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
The museum is closed on Mondays.
The museum is open all year except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Years Day, Good Friday, Easter, and all Mondays.

Director: Les Reker
Interested in a guided tour? Please email:
Office: 828-689-1400
P.O. Box 6705

Mars Hill, NC 28754




Special thank yous to Ray Rapp, Steve Hill, Gerald Ledford (Class of '77), Jodi Barber, Rob Berls, Legacy Films Ltd., Norfolk Southern Corporation, Doe River Ministries, Great Smoky Mountain Railway, ET&WNC "Every Time With No Complaint", UNC-A, Frank Clodfelter.

EXHIBITION DATES: June 27, 2015 – January 31, 2016

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Recent article in Asheville Citizen Times newspaper about our current exhibition which ends January 31,2016.

Click HERE for the article.



Opens February 27 and runs through May 31, 2016 

"THE CAROLINA MOUNTAINS: The Photography of Margaret Morley, From the North Carolina Museum of History".

This exhibition will feature more than 50 photographic prints made from the 244 original Appalachian mountain photographs by Margaret Morley from a collection of works donated to the Museum of History in 1914.

Margaret Morley arrived in Tryon, NC around the turn of the twentieth century, just as railroads, industry, tourists, and missionaries were introducing modernity to the remote region. A writer, illustrator, educator, and biologist, Morley realized the traditional way of life for the Appalachian mountaineer was passing and she set out to capture that way of life with words and images before it disappeared. Morley authored seventeen books.

In 1923 Houghton Mifflin published Morley's detailed descriptions and images of her newfound friends and homeland in the book, The Carolina Mountains. The book became an immediate success and, nearly a century later, is still considered one of the best works about the Mountain region. Ms Morley's brilliant and timeless wilderness photography, as well as sensitive depiction of the mountain folks, brings to life the unique quality of life that was once prevalent in this region. 
                                                                                        Bw Morley Margaret Oval



New Blue Ridge Heritage Trail Sign Installed at the RURAL HERITAGE MUSEUM

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(left to right) Dr. Dan Lunsford, University President, Mr. Richard Dillingham, University Historian and first Director of the Museum, and Mr. Les Reker, current Director of the Rural Heritage Museum.

A new interpretive wayside sign greets visitors to the Rural Heritage Museum in Mars Hill and is one of 69 such signs being installed on the new Blue Ridge Heritage Trail. The Trail is a collection of special places throughout the North Carolina Mountains and foothills that embody the remarkable history and culture of the region, and is an initiative of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership. (BRNHA).
At each location, the sign tells the stories of the people and places that have shaped the distinctive heritage of the 25 westernmost counties in North Carolina. The (Site location name) sign tells the story about the Rural Heritage Museum.
In addition to the signs, the Trail will be enhanced with the installation of interactive kiosks in five NC Welcome Centers that greet visitors to the region, plus a map brochure and website to help them get around the region and learn more about each site.
This initiative is designed to attract and inform visitors, students, and residents alike about the many natural and cultural heritage attractions in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. The goal is to encourage people to discover places they may not know about. It is not a “Point A to Point B” trail, but rather many stops throughout the region. People can enjoy a single stop or piece together several sites by theme, town, region or activity to create their own personalized “trail.” QR codes on each sign will enable people with smart phones to locate other nearby sites.
The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail is a project of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership and was supported by Federal Highway.
Transportation Enhancement funding administered through the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Haywood County, NC.

PAST EXHIBITIONS: “OUR STORY – THIS PLACE”: The History of African American Education in Madison County, North Carolina: The Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School

Exhibition dates: September 14, 2014 – February, 28, 2015
“INTERWOVEN: Coverlets, Ballads, and America’s Discovery of Madison County Folklife.”
Exhibition dates: September 29, 2013 - August 13, 2014.