Click on the blue exhibit titles to learn more.

Permanent Exhibit – Located in our 2nd floor gallery

steppstopPathways from Our Past

The Swannanoa Valley has been a pathway for animals and humans for more than 12,000 years as they crossed the Blue Ridge over the Catawba River headwaters or through the Swannanoa Gap. It was one of the main routes taken by frontiersmen and pioneers making their way west.

Our 2nd Floor Permanent Exhibits include:

  • The animals and plants of the region
  • Early hunters and gatherers, Cherokee
  • Pioneer settlement
  • Stage coach and drover’s path
  • The coming of the railroad
  • Into the 20th century—paved roads, automobiles and development
  • The pathways of today

Temporary Exhibits – Located in our 1st floor gallery; change seasonally

Fall 2016 – Edward L. DuPuy’s Artisans of the Appalachians

Hardy Davidson, Swannanoa (Photography by Ed DuPuy.)

Hardy Davidson, woodcarver, Swannanoa (Photograph by Ed DuPuy.)

Born in Blacksburg, VA, in 1914, Ed DuPuy moved to Black Mountain, NC, as a teenager. From the 1950s until the 1980s, he made a living photographing weddings, special events, conference groups, real estate, and commercial subjects, but he would also capture everyday life and landscapes around Black Mountain out of pure interest.

He was also an artisan woodworker whose antique reproductions no doubt are still in many homes. He taught classes at Black Mountain College, was a dedicated member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, and published a book, Artisans of the Appalachians, about regional craftsmakers. Never before seen photographs of the artisans featured in the publication are exhibited here.

Special thanks to Chelsea Ensley for creating this web version of the exhibit.


Spring 2014 – Moonshine in the Mountains


Contrary to the stereotype of the lazy, drunken moonshiner, many supported their families and community by paying taxes, mortgage, and store bills – even starting businesses – from the revenue their liquor produced.

Moonshiners are the people who make the alcohol, while Bootleggers are the smugglers who transport and sell it. In colonial times, these distributors would conceal their product inside their tall riding boots, which is how they got their name. 

More recently, bootleggers in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s took to racing cars packed with moonshine through the night to avoid local police. Their mechanical skills developed as they learned to increase the horsepower of their vehicles to outrun the authorities.

This created a culture of car lovers in the US that eventually grew into the popular NASCAR racing series. In fact, the winner of the first NASCAR race had used the same car to make a bootleg run a week earlier.

Special thanks to Chelsea Ensley for creating this web version of the exhibit.