The Museum of North Carolina Minerals, located at Milepost 331 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland and Spruce Pine, introduces the treasures found in the state and the local Spruce Pine Mining District through interactive displays on the wide variety of minerals and gems found in the region, providing an introduction to the importance of mining in the region and the mineral and gem wealth found here. Free admission. Open seven days a week.
Geological activity formed the wide variety of minerals that can now be found in the Southern Appalachians. 400 million years ago in a continental collision, molten rock was forced into cracks in a dark rock called gneiss. Because the rock cooled very slowly, huge deposits of minerals formed. Today, geologists find minerals like quartz, feldspar, mica, and gemstones.
The Museum hosts a visitor center for the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce, where you can pick up information on local businesses, attractions, lodging, food and more. A gift shop featuring souvenirs and books on Western North Carolina is also located in the museum.
The exhibits clearly and concisely explain: how the geological processes formed the mountains millions of years ago; why a wealth of mineral resources resulted in this geologic activity; what minerals are and how they are identified and classified; what role minerals mined in North Carolina have played, and continue to play, in the industry and economy of the state, region, and world; and how minerals are mined, processed, and incorporated into the manufacture of a vast array of products.
To tour a real mine and see many exhibits on mining and life in a mining town, go to nearby Emerald Village, located about six miles away. See our Emerald Village Guide.
Overmountain Victory Celebration: Mid September
This living history encampment at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 331) celebrates the crossing of the Blue Ridge Mountains by the Overmountain Men on their way to an eventual battle with British forces at Kings Mountain. The museum grounds are transformed into a colonial militia encampment circa 1780 at the head of Gillespie Gap. The encampment provides a glimpse of various colonial activities, and tells the story of the Overmountain Men and the Battle of Kings Mountain. Free admission.
Location: The Museum is at the intersection of NC Highway 226 and Blue Ridge Parkway at Little Switzerland at Milepost 331 (about 50 miles north on the Parkway from Asheville). See our Blue Ridge Parkway Guide for more nearby things to do.