If you’re traveling anywhere near the mountains of northeast Georgia, plan a visit to Mountain City and take a walk through the past at the Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center
, a look at a unique time and place in America's past that is very nearly gone - a piece captured by local high school students who truly valued their heritage.
Here you will find homes, tools, trades, crafts, and a look at the lifestyle of the all-but-vanished pioneer culture of the southern Appalachian mountains. Foxfire students began interviewing their families, friends, and neighbors in 1966. Many times, these folks would give the students some old tools or the finished hand-crafted items they were discussing or documenting. Very quickly, Foxfire was growing an extensive artifact collection. When The Foxfire Book became a national phenomenon, Foxfire gained a source of capital (book royalties) to fund new growth. In 1974, Foxfire students elected to purchase land on Black Rock Mountain and created a physical presence in the community. From the beginning, the students intended this property to be a place of interaction between themselves, their work, and their community.
Foxfire’s new homeplace opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for the students – they could now collect and preserve a very significant piece of endangered southern Appalachian culture that they had never been able to even consider before – the log cabins that were home to so many generations of their ancestors. About half of the 20+ log cabins at the Museum are authentic structures, standing nearly as they were originally built as many as 180 years ago. The rest of the cabins are traditional designs, constructed from usable pieces of barns, homes or other buildings too deteriorated to be reassembled, and represent structures that could not be found intact or would not be parted with by their owners. Self-Guided Walking Tours
For a small admission fee, visitors can take a self-guided walking tour of the Museum along a trail that climbs the property, winding throughout the cabins and grounds (for visitors with mobility issues, some parts of the Museum are vehicle and wheelchair-accessible). A souvenir tour booklet provides photos and extra information on each of the cabins along the trail. While on the tour, keep in mind that nearly everything you see is the result of the work of high school students who valued their heritage. Most of the artifacts on display were gathered by students while conducting interviews for The Foxfire Magazine, and the log cabins themselves were tagged, disassembled, moved, and rebuilt largely by the labor of the students as well.
Experience the simple, functional interior of a single-room 1820s log home that raised three generations of 10 children each. Look over a 1790s "tar grinder" wagon - the only one in existence documented to have been used in the Trail of Tears. Peek into displays of woodworking tools, housewares, folk art, and farming tools. Test your balance on stilts, a traditional Appalachian amusement. At the peak of the trail is the replica Chapel, where visitors can sit a spell on the split-log pews (hand-made by middle-schoolers) and then ring the bell on your way out. See how many different plants you can spot along the nature trail heading back down from the Chapel. Take photos of your family in the upstairs window or in front of the water wheel at the gristmill, after inspecting the half-ton mill stones and wooden gear teeth. Spend a few minutes with The Village Weaver, artist-in-residence Sharon Grist, who's happy to share her love for spinning, knitting, and weaving with visitors during the week. Finish up back at the gift shop, where all of Foxfire's publications are available for purchase, along with a wide selection of related books and a variety of traditional hand-made crafts including pottery, soaps, wood toys, and textile goods.DIRECTIONS
The Foxfire Museum is tucked away on a mountainside in Mountain City, in the northeastern tip of Georgia—beautiful Rabun County. We are within two hours' drive from Asheville, Atlanta, Greenville, and Knoxville.
Scenic US Highway 441 is the route to take.
Once you've reached Mountain City:
• Watch for the brown State Park signs, follow them to Black Rock Mountain Parkway.
• On the Parkway, continue up appx. 1 mile, watch for the first small brown Foxfire sign.
• At the huge "Black Rock Mtn. State Park" sign, turn left onto Down Home Lane.
• Just over 1/10 mile, turn left at the stop sign onto Cross Street (gravel road for a time).
• 1/2 mile down Cross Street, watch for our sign and turn right onto Foxfire Lane.
• Stop at the Gate House, the first log cabin you’ll see.