Mitchell's Monument, Mt. Mitchell, Burnsville [removed]
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
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.
The University of North Carolina held deed to the site
The completion date was August 18, 1888
35.766350 , -82.265430 View in Geobrowse
"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
“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
White Bronze (almost pure zinc)
Funds were raised by local subscription and from the will of Elisha Mitchell’s daughter, Mrs. E.N. Grant.
No dedication ceremony was held per request of Mitchell’s family.
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.
The monument was located on the summit of Mt. Mitchell near Burnsville, NC.