New group seeks to support Mountain Gateway Museum

This is the logo for the new group supporting the Mountain Gateway Museum.

Mountain Gateway Museum & Heritage Center in Old Fort has a bunch of new friends and would like you to become one, too.

Eleven McDowell and Burke county residents came together last summer to form the nonprofit Friends of the Mountain Gateway Museum (FOTMGM) organization to help increase financial and volunteer support for the museum. Mountain Gateway Museum is a regional branch of the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh and part of the state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, according to a news release.

FOTMGM also will act as an advocate, working with communities, as well as state, local, and regional governments, to promote the museum’s mission and the services it offers to smaller museums, libraries, historic sites, and historical societies across 38 western North Carolina counties.

“Mountain Gateway Museum is a gem that many local residents have never even visited,” said FOTMGM President Jeff Parker of Parker Legwear in Old Fort. “Yet here in our own backyard is a place where we can learn— for free—about the history of western North Carolina from the time when the mountain region was the wild, wild west right up to the mid-20th century.

“There are two late-1800s log cabins from McDowell County on the museum’s site, as well as picnic tables, an outdoor amphitheater, some prime fishing spots along Mill Creek, and a free Sunday afternoon music jam on the front porch,” Parker added. “The museum really has something for everyone, and we need to help support that.”

FOTMGM recently kicked off a year-long membership drive to recruit new members for the organization. A variety of annual membership levels is available, including individual ($15), family ($25), patron ($50), and charter ($100). Corporate-level memberships also are available. For information about them, visit the FOTMGM website at

Discounts of $5 per annual membership are offered to U.S. veterans, active U.S. military members, senior citizens (age 65 and up), and students. Also, the first 50 charter members will have their names engraved on a plaque that will be prominently displayed inside Mountain Gateway Museum.

Membership perks vary according to level but range from a subscription to the Friends’ quarterly newsletter to discounts in the museum’s gift shop, invitations to special events and exhibit openings, discounts on site rentals for weddings and special events, and free booth spaces at either Pioneer Day or Railroad Day, the museum’s two largest annual events.

All money raised by FOTMGM is being used to help bring exciting new exhibits to the museum, create engaging educational programs, acquire and conserve historically important artifacts, promote and preserve traditional Appalachian crafts, and support a growing outreach program, according to the news release.

FOTMGM members also are invited to serve as museum volunteers. They can assist Mountain Gateway Museum staff with school group tours, conduct craft and living history demonstrations, help research and catalog artifacts, provide musical programs, aid with gardening and grounds maintenance, and perform numerous other services.

For more information about FOTMGM, contact Jeff Parker at 828-668-7627 or the organization’s vice president, Dee Daughtridge, at 828-668-4047, or call Mountain Gateway Museum at 828-668-9259.

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