Burke County

Click here to access county information for western North Carolina.

Cities/Towns: Bridgewater - Connelly Springs - Drexel - Glen Alpine - Hildebran - Linville Falls - Long card - Morganton* - Oak Hill - Pleasant Grove - Rutherford College - Table Rock - Valdese

Unique places: Ben Long IV Frescoes - Blueridge Parkway - Drexel Grapevine Antiques - Farmer's Markets - From This Day Forward - History Museum - Linville Caverns - Morganton Festival - Morganton Municipal Auditorium - Old Colony Players - Pisgah National Forest - Freedom Trail Greenway - Rock School Arts Foundation - South Mountains State Park - Waldesian Museum - Waldensian Heritage Wines - Western Piedmont Community College

Local Newspaper (s) - (Daily News) - The News Herald


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Approximately 17,000 people use the Catawba River greenway trail each month.  The festival offers a mile of handmade and unique items ranging from copper yard art to fine art such as photography, landscapes and sculpture and finely crafted silver jewelry.
Compliments City of Morganton Compliments City of Morganton
Freedom Trail Greenway Historic Morganton Festival
Located at the base of Humpback Mountain in the beautiful Linville Valley lies a natural wonder, Linville Caverns.  After remaining a mysterious secret for centuries, the caverns have been opened for safe and convenient public touring.
Compliments Linville Caverns
Linville Caverns



A Brief History of the Formation of Burke County

Source: History

Burke County's roots go back to the days of the earliest settlers in the Catawba Valley Basin. In November 1776, the fifth and final Provincial Congress of North Carolina convened and adopted a North Carolina State Constitution.

In conformity with the new constitution, the first General Assembly convened in 1777. An act was passed, dividing Rowan County and establishing a new county as of June 1, 1777, named in honor of Thomas Burke, then a representative in the Continental Congress and later to be the third governor of the state. Governor Burke was born in Ireland and later migrated to Orange County.

The new county of Burke comprised such a large territory that it later became the mother of all or part of 16 counties including Buncombe, Catawba, Mitchell, Madison, Yancey, Caldwell, McDowell and Alexander. In 1834, Burke County was reduced to its present size of 514 square miles.

Burke County's first courthouse was built of logs in 1785 about eight years after the county was formed. A second and more substantial building was constructed in 1791 and served as the county Courthouse until 1833 when a two-story building was authorized by the General Assembly.

During the last year of the Civil War, Federal raiders under General George Stoneman allegedly threw many court records out on the courthouse square and burned them. In 1901, a complete remodeling was done. Until vacated for the new courthouse in 1976, the Old Burke County Courthouse was the oldest public structure still being used for its originally designated purpose in western North Carolina.

Burke County Today

Burke County with Morganton as its seat, is situated in the section of North Carolina where the rolling hills of the Piedmont blend with the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the south side of Burke County are the South Mountains. To the west are the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Burke County has about 514 square miles, or 329,469 acres, and has a population of 89,148 (census 2000). The largest landowners in Burke County, are the U.S. Government, Crescent Resources (Duke Energy Co.), and the State of North Carolina.

The County also has the third largest concentration of state employment in the state through the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Department of Correction, School for the Deaf, Western Carolina Center, and Broughton Hospital. Burke County has been referred to as the "Western State Capital."


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