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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Where Mountains Meet Water

Posted October 30, 2007 10:07 a.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2007 10:13 a.m. EDT

Our county by county tour of the Tar Heel state continues. We've already paid Perquimans a visit in the east and Haywood in the west. Today the road leads us to a beautiful spot in the foothills.

Pardon my pleasure but this journey takes me home. Burke County calls itself the place "Where the Mountains Meet the Water." Burke is the home of Lake James which includes 154 miles of shoreline in the shadows of Table Rock, a majestic peak that rises up over Linville Gorge. Lake James and the South Mountains both boast state parks, glorious scenery and wildlife including bald eagles.

Several major publications have listed Burke County as one of the best places to live and raise a family. Its nickname is the Western State Capital. Burke has the third largest concentration of state employees. The overall population is about 90,000 with Morganton serving as the county seat and largest city.

Burke was once called the "Mother of All Counties." Originally Burke included parts of 16 other counties including Buncombe, Catawba, Mitchell, Madison, Yancey, McDowell and Alexander.

Famous residents include Senator Sam Ervin. Check out his new statue at the historic Burke County Courthouse in Morganton. Other notables from Burke are blues singer and guitarist Etta Baker, former NFL running back Leon Johnson, Motown musician Johnny Bristol and Frankie Silver who was hanged in Morganton in 1833 for chopping up and hiding the remains of her abusive husband.

Burke County is also the home of historic Quaker Meadows where the successful plan to defeat the British in the Battle of Kings Mountain was hatched under a large oak tree in 1780.

Burke got its name in honor of Thomas Burke of the Continental Congress. Burke later became North Carolina’s third governor.

What else do you know about Burke County? Please share.