Set in the Eastern United States, Appalachia is a cultural region that covers many states. In North Carolina, the culture is focused in the western part of the state where the mountains are, and where the people lived, worked and made their mark on history. Appalachian culture is a way of life and thinking that encompasses many things, from their oral stories and common history, to their food, patois, music, dance, arts, crafts, traditions and methods of agriculture.
The Blue Ridge Mountains offer endless opportunities to see and experience the culture of Appalachian people. From the 1700s when Scotch-Irish and German settlers began arriving, the resulting culture was influenced greatly by the Cherokee band of Native Americans who called the region home long before them.
Western North Carolina Attractions Featuring Appalachian Culture in Maggie Valley
The Appalachian Mural Trail – See an expansive mural at Joey’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley. This mural was painted by Doreyl Ammons Cain and depicts Maggie Valley landmarks and its Appalachian way of life. This is just one stop on the Appalachian Mural Trail.
Haywood County Quilt Trail – Haywood County includes Waynesville (county seat), Maggie Valley, Canton, Clyde and Lake Junaluska. Quilts are a beloved symbol of comfort and heritage throughout the United States, and no less so in the culture of the Appalachian Mountains. In addition to keeping family members warm, many historic quilts tell a story or reveal details of the lives of those gone before. Quilt designs of the Appalachian region are honored on the quilt trail, with design blocks being shown at various places within Haywood County. Within Maggie Valley, you can see the Mariner’s Compass quilt block at Ketner House (3894 Soco Road), the Maple Leaf block at Mountain Joy (121 Setzer Cover Road), the Bear Paw block at Smoky Paw’s Lodge, Mr. Roosevelt’s Neck Tie at the Stompin’ Ground, Mile High Fun and Lone Star at Cataloochee Ranch and more. See all the sites on the Quilt Trail here.
The Stompin’ Ground – Located in Maggie Valley, the Stompin’ Ground offers a look into Appalachian music and dance. See professional dancers perform the mountain two-step, square dancing, clogging and line dancing. Enjoy local musicians playing classic fiddle and bluegrass tunes as well as contemporary country hits. It’s located at 3116 Soco Road.
The Maggie Valley Festival Grounds – Immerse yourself fully in Appalachian culture at many of the events held here annually. You might want to add the Hillbilly Jam to your calendar. This music festival is usually held in July and features live music, including classic banjo, heritage bluegrass and even some rock-n-roll. See Appalachian arts and crafts, as well as the “Moonshiners” from the TV show. Other festivals include the August End of Summer Music Jam and the September Arts and Crafts Show.
Nearby North Carolina Attractions Featuring Appalachian Culture
Cades Cove & Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Cades Cove is located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was first settled around 1818, and offers the widest variety of historic buildings within the park. You can see three historic churches, a working grist mill, historic log houses and barns. Pick up a self-guided tour booklet at the entrance. The GSMN Park has many such historic sites, offering opportunities at its learning centers to experience and learn about Appalachian life and culture. Learn more.
North Carolina Appalachian Trail Conservatory – The Appalachian Trail runs through North Carolina for 95.7 miles, with over 224 additional miles along the North Carolina / Tennessee border. Permits are required to hike Great Smoky Mountains National Park and backpackers will be required to stay at designated sites. In the High Country, elevations can reach 6,000 feet.
The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail – Including 24 historic Western North Carolina attractions, the Blue Ridge Heritage Trail will help you learn everything you ever wanted to know about Appalachian, Cherokee and mountain culture. Historic sites along the trail cover everything from agricultural traditions to music and the arts. Sites include the Rural Heritage Museum in Mars Hill, where you can learn all about the cultural heritage of Southern Appalachia, from the 1800s to early 1900s. See primitive artifacts, farm life objects from the 1800s and 1900s. They also have a one-room log cabin replica with a working hearth. They curate three to four changing exhibitions yearly. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian (589 Tsali Blvd, Cherokee, NC) covers Cherokee heritage and traditions, with an extensive exhibit of artifacts and photos. Over in Rutherfordton, NC, you can see the Bechtler Mint, where Christopher Bechtler, a German-born jeweler, minted the USA’s first $1 gold coin in the 1830s.
Lodging Near Western North Carolina Attractions
Stay at Meadowlark Motel in Maggie Valley where you can find spacious cabins, cottages and guest rooms with plush beds – many with jetted tubs, microwaves and refrigerators. It’s been family owned and operated for over 40 years and is located on the banks of Jonathan Creek, a state-stocked, heritage-designated waterway. Take advantage of their free Wi-Fi and Continental breakfast, along with guest services, like Friday family nights and free Saturday night cookouts. Learn about the culture of the region through wine and craft beer tastings, as well as music by local musicians. Walk to local attractions and restaurants near the motel. Sign up for private, in-room spa services. You can even book their outdoor pavilion to host a group gathering. Call 828-926-1717 for more information or book your reservations online.
What is Appalachian Culture? By Michael Maloney