By Paul T. Choate
April 4, 2013. Local favorite tourist attraction Mystery Hill is currently offering Dollar Days for High Country residents of Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties through the end of April. Entry is only $2 per person and includes admission to Mystery Hill, the Indian Artifacts Museum and the Appalachian Heritage Museum.
Nestled in a small valley against the backdrop of a large hill, Mystery Hill has been entertaining visitors from all over since 1949. Technically listed in Blowing Rock, but actually right in between Boone and Blowing Rock four miles from each, is a rural Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a historical museum, an educational gem mining facility and a location for cabin rentals all rolled into one.
The main attraction, Mystery Hill and the Mystery House, features some of the more unusual illusions — if in fact they are illusions — that you will find anywhere. You start with the Mystery Platform, a seemingly perfectly level concrete slab that seems to make whoever is on one side of it seem taller. After the Mystery Platform it’s on to the Mystery House that seems to defy gravity. As hard as you try to use logic to explain what you see, water does in fact seem to run uphill through a long pipe, a rubber ball clearly rolls uphill before your very eyes and you can feel the gravity pulling you in a specific direction. You can try to tell yourself this it is all optical illusions, but the angles are too extreme for it to be a simple illusion. Whatever the trick is, if it is a trick, it is very good.
The Appalachian Heritage Museum was added in 1990 and the Native American Artifacts Museum was added in 1997 after a substantial donation of artifacts from Moon and Irene Mullins of Hickory. Both museums are located in the former home of Appalachian State University founder Blanford B. Dougherty with the heritage museum upstairs and the artifacts museum downstairs, respectively. The Appalachian Heritage Museum is set up, as best the Mystery Hill staff could, to look exactly as it did when the Dougherty family lived there in the early to mid-1900s.
In the Appalachian Heritage Museum you walk directly into the early 1900s. A full antique kitchen is seen, as well as a living room with furniture, a piano, and an organ that were owned by the Dougherty family. A family picture of the Doughertys is seen atop the antique fireplace. The whole second floor makes you feel as though you are visiting Mr. Dougherty’s home in an era long past.
The Native American Artifacts Museum is nothing short of incredible. The collection has been appraised at over $1 million and it is easy to see why. There are thousands upon thousands of artifacts, albeit most of them arrowheads, that the Mullins had collected over the years. The museum also contains various Native American paintings, as well as a life-sized bust of a warrior.
For $2 per person, it’s hard to pass up taking a trip over to Mystery Hill during April to see everything they have to offer. Proof of local residency is required to be eligible for the discount.
For more information on Mystery Hill, call 828-263-0507 or visit mysterhill-nc.com.