Discover the powerful stories, memorable people, and influential moments of our past as told through the public murals found along the Appalachian Mural Trail. Although the trail also traverses TN and VA, we invite you to explore these pictorial histories in the idyllic small mountain towns of NC dotted along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP).
If you’re beginning your tour in Asheville, there are a few must-sees before you head west (BRP MilePost: 382.6.) Downtown’s Pack’s Tavern is the home to 3 “postage stamp murals” featuring detailed scenes of the historic mountain music played during Shindig on the Green. A short distance away, you’ll find the Haywood Street Frescoes featuring wall-sized religious depictions in the relief style, and the Triangle Park Murals tell the history and stories of African Americans in Asheville. Round out your visit with the iconic Dolly Parton Mural in West Asheville.
Your next 3 public murals include 2 “postage-stamp” murals and 1 enormous display in the towns of Canton, Waynesville, and Maggie Valley. Canton’s artscape graces the exterior of the Canton Area Historical Museum with a train delivering logs to the town’s (recently closed) paper mill (BRP MilePost: 443) and the historic Shelton’s House mural highlights farming in the countryside of Waynesville (BRP MilePost: 443.) Joey’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley has the honor of displaying the 25-foot-long mural, “Maggie Valley Seasons of Time” (BRP MilePost: 455.7) in their waiting area. You’ll find memories of the now-abandoned Ghost Town in the Sky and entertainers at the Stomping Ground dance hall. (Take a break to enjoy their world-famous pancakes!)
Next, head for Dillsboro for a cluster of remarkable public murals. The Green Energy Park, promoting renewable energy sources, is home to the “Blacksmith Mural,” which features the first blacksmith forges fired on landfill gasses. The colorful “Glass Blowing Mural,” also puts the spotlight on the use of methane gas in their hot shops. Then head over to the “Colorfest” Youth Mural to view the painting created in a special workshop to spotlight young talent as a kickoff to the Dillsboro Colorfest Fine Arts Festival.
Being the mountains of Western North Carolina, you’ll next take a circuitous route from Dillsboro, through Franklin and over to Bryson City. While not officially on the Appalachian Mural Trail as of yet, Bryson City also boasts some incredible mural contributions. As the home of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, it’s only fitting that the first 2 murals depict “Steam of the Smokies’ at their train museum and “American Heritage Railways” at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Headquarters. Their third public mural is at Madison’s on Main, featuring a popular selfie spot set against a brightly colored background.
Continue west from Bryson City to Robbinsville where you will find one of the most inspiring and moving pieces of public art on the entire Appalachian Mural Trail. The larger-than-life “Snowbird Cherokee Matriarchs” tells the story honoring these women and the “Snowbird traditions of hominy-making, storytelling, beadwork art, and soap-making.” Plan to spend a good amount of time here taking in the individual parts that make the whole.
Insider Tip: Close to Robbinsville, you’ll pass through the Stecoah community where they are planning to add their contribution to the Appalachian Mural Trail. Be sure to check back when you’re planning your tour.
Your last stop on this inspiring tour is Hayesville, the location of 3 magnificent public murals. The first work of art is the “Cherokee Homestead Exhibit Mural,” illustrating elements of Cherokee culture and serving as a background for the structures along the 2-mile downtown Cherokee History Trail. The “Cherokee Chief Mural” is a “postage-stamp” painting celebrating the life of the influential Chief Nimrod Jarrett Smith of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. Just 3 blocks from the Homestead Exhibit is the “Mountain Valley Park” mural set in a beautiful pocket park and designed by talented students from Hayesville High School.
Visit Appalachian Mural Trail to plan your visit and to view photos and detailed descriptions of each of these celebrated public murals.