Gillespie Gap
(Museum of North Carolina Minerals, National Park Service)

Description

After camping along the North Toe River at Grassy Creek, the Overmountain patriots marched up Grassy Creek on September 29 to reach the crest of the Blue Ridge. From Gillespie Gap, they could look far into the Catawba River valley. They faced there a difficult decision, to divide their army in the face of the enemy, so they could proceed down into the valley along two separate routes, either of which Ferguson's loyalists might be following into the mountains.

Today, the Museum of North Carolina Minerals along the Blue Ridge Parkway at NC Hwy 226 interprets the route of the Overmountain Men and their experiences that day.

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Museum of North Carolina Minerals, National Park Service

Photo by Randell Jones

This National Park Service facility is along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 331 at NC Hwy 226. It sits at Gillespie Gap, the spot through which the Overmountain Men passed after marching up Grassy Creek from the North Toe River, a route followed today by NC Hwy 226 from Spruce Pine. [View Additional File Details]

"A Gap in History" exhibit

Photo by Randell Jones

This exhibit inside the Museum of North Carolina Minerals shares the story of the Overmountain militiamen crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains to Gillespie Gap and then dividing their forces to descend into the Catawba River valley by two separate routes. [View Additional File Details]

View of the Catawba River valley from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Photo by Randell Jones

From the Blue Ridge at Gillespie Gap and on to Lynn Gap, the Overmountain Men could see the Catawba River valley into which they were descending not knowing if British Major Patrick Ferguson might be laying an ambuscade along the trail. [View Additional File Details]

Gillespie Gap Monument

Photos by Randell Jones

On the grounds of the Museum of North Carolina Minerals stands a plaque interpreting the passage of the Overmountain men through Gillespie Gap on September 29, 1780. (The plaque also includes some erroneous information confusing Gillespie Gap as the site of other events involving Francis Marion in 1761. Those events from the French and Indian War took place at Etchoe Pass which is actually in Macon County, NC, near the Georgia line. ) [View Additional File Details]

Excerpt from "Before They Were Heroes at King's Mountain" by Randell Jones

p. 395 On the 29th, the men rode up Grassy Creek some eight or nine miles to its head where they reached the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Gillespie Gap. Below them, they looked east into the Catawba River valley. The beauty, however, belied the danger. The officers faced a difficult decision. Two routes descended the mountain to the valley below. If they went down one, Ferguson could well have been coming up the other and once behind them would have been unopposed in executing his threat to burn their homes and crops. The other choice was as disagreeable. They could have split their force and descended by both routes . . . . Dividing ones force in the face of the enemy was a classic military blunder. . . . They knew the risks and the consequences. Splitting their forces was, however, the choice they had to make. Copyright 2011, Randell Jones Available at www.danielboonefootsteps.com [View Additional File Details]

Cite this Page

Randell Jones, A Guide to the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, “Gillespie Gap
(Museum of North Carolina Minerals, National Park Service),” Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, accessed November 24, 2017, http:/​/​bythewaywebf.​webfactional.​com/​omvt/​items/​show/​17.​
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