Documenting the American South

Doc South header logo Home
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes banner
  • Monument Name

    Mitchell's Monument, Mt. Mitchell, Burnsville [removed]

  • Type

    Obelisk

  • Subjects

    Historic Educational Figures

    Historic Cultural Figures

    Geography

    Removed Monuments

  • Creator

    Monumental Bronze Company, Bridgeport, CT, Builder

  • City

    Burnsville

  • County

    Yancey

  • Description

    The obelisk was built from nine sections of white bronze manufactured in Connecticut. It was 12 ft. tall and 3 ft. square at the base and the metal had been sandblasted to give it the look of white marble. In raised letters on the west face was the name MITCHELL. A bronze plaque carried an inscription. The monument sections had been shipped by train and wagon to within ten miles of the erection site. From there the seven crates, weighing over 1,000 lbs. total, were hauled up the mountain by manpower. It was bolted to rocks using copper and zinc bolts. A wind storm in January 1915 destroyed the monument. Prior to that it had been subject to vandalism and it was initially thought it had been dynamited.

    Images: The monument destroyed after the 1915 storm

  • Inscription

    Monument, west face: MITCHELL

    Plaque: HERE LIES IN HOPE OF A BLESSED / RESURRECTION THE BODY OF / THE REV. ELISHA MITCHELL, D.D., / WHO AFTER BEING FOR 39 YEARS / A PROFESSOR / IN THE UNIVERSITY OF / NORTH CAROLINA, / LOST HIS LIFE IN THE SCIENTIFIC / EXPLORATION OF THIS MOUNTAIN / IN THE 64TH YEAR OF HIS AGE / JUNE27, 1857.

  • Custodian

    The University of North Carolina held deed to the site

  • Dedication Date

    The completion date was August 18, 1888

  • Decade

    1880s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.766350 , -82.265430 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Prof. Mitchell's Monument Scarred," The News and Observer Chronicle (Raleigh, NC), August 29, 1894, 1-2 Link

      Blythe, John. “The Short Lived Monument to Elisha Mitchell,” North Carolina Miscellany, (accessed September 16, 2015) Link

      Conner, R.D.W. “Dr. Elisha Mitchell,” News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), January 24, 1915, 14

      Craig, Locke. Public letters and papers of Locke Craig : Governor of North Carolina, 1913-1917, (Raleigh : Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, state printers, 1916), 218, 252, 258, (accessed October 28, 2015) Link

      Folder 1567: Yancey County: Mount Mitchell, circa 1900s: Scan 1, in the North Carolina County Photographic Collection #P0001, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed October 28, 2015) Link

      Folder 1567: Yancey County: Mount Mitchell, circa 1900s: Scan 6, in the North Carolina County Photographic Collection #P0001, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed October 28, 2015) Link

      Phillips, W.B. “The Erection Of The Monument To Elisha Mitchell On Mitchell's High Peak : Abstract Of An Address Delivered Before The Elisha Mitchell Society, October 16th, 1888” Journal Of The Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society Volume 5, Part 2. July-December (1888), 55-59, (accessed September 27, 2015) Link

      Watson, Elgiva D. "Elisha Mitchell, 19 Aug. 1793-27 June 1857," Documenting the American South (from Dictionary of North Carolina Biography edited by William S. Powell), (accessed October 27, 2015) Link

      “Bronze Plaque Honoring Elisha Mitchell,” Learn NC, (accessed September 22, 2015) Link

      “Mitchell’s Monument On Mt. Mitchell, Highest Point East Of The Rockies,” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (PO77), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed September 16, 2015) Link

      “Towers of Mt. Mitchell.” From Vanished Places of the Southern Appalachians, April 12, 2008, (accessed September 30, 2015) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    White Bronze (almost pure zinc)

  • Sponsors

    Funds were raised by local subscription and from the will of Elisha Mitchell’s daughter, Mrs. E.N. Grant.

  • Monument Cost

    $750

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    No dedication ceremony was held per request of Mitchell’s family.

  • Subject Notes

    Mitchell, a professor at UNC had fallen to his death near a waterfall that now also bears his name. The UNC professor was in Yancey County to measure the altitude of the mountain then known as Black Dome. Prior to his death Mitchell had come under attack from a former student at UNC and then Congressman Thomas Lanier Clingman for his claim that Black Dome was the tallest peak in the eastern United States. Clingman had claimed that another mountain in the Black Mountain range was taller. The dispute involved who had first identified what is now known as Mt. Mitchell. Clingman claimed that Mitchell had identified another mountain that was later named Clingman’s Dome. Mitchell’s claim to have identified the tallest mountain was later bore out.

    Originally buried in Asheville, Mitchell’s body was re-interred at the top of Mount Mitchell in June 1858. The burial site was marked by a simple cairn until 1888.

    A wooden temporary marker stood at the head of the cairn which marks Mitchell’s grave until a new memorial with bronze plaque was dedicated in 1928.

  • Location

    Summit of Mt. Mitchell near Burnsville

  • Death Space

    Yes

Know anything else about this monument that isn't mentioned here? If you have additional information on this or any other monument in our collection fill out the form at the Contact Us link in the footer. Thank you.