About Burnsville & Yancey County

Burnsville Town Square is the gathering place for the community, where special events are held throughout the year.

Burnsville, North Carolina is a charming small town in the mountains about 35 to 40 minutes northeast of Asheville. It was established in 1834. Today the population of Burnsville is around 1,800 people. Yancey County has about 18,000 with more in the summer and fall. There’s a statue of Otway Burns, the town’s namesake, in the middle of Burnsville Town Square.

Burnsville is a friendly, authentic small town with great shops, galleries, restaurants and more. Many visitors park their cars on Main Street and walk around to the shops and restaurants. Free parking throughout town.

Yancey County is home to Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain East of the Mississippi River. In fact, 5 of the 10 highest mountains in Eastern America are located here. The summit of Mount Mitchell is 6,684 feet, and is topped with the grave of Elisha Mitchell and an observation platform that offers a 360-degree view of the Black Mountains and the South Toe River area near Highway 80 South.


Burnsville Town Center

If you’re attending a concert or public event in Burnsville, chances are it’s happening at the Burnsville Town Center on South Main Street. Many families rent out the facility for weddings & gatherings, and local organizations hold meetings & workshops there too. There’s a raised stage with stairs on both sides, large meeting rooms, and a kitchen facility.

Otway Burns
1775 – 1850

John “Yellow Jacket John” Bailey
1798 – 1880

Bartlett Yancey
1785 – 1828

Local Namesakes

The town of Burnsville is named for Otway Burns, a distinguished ship captain during the War of 1812 and later a North Carolina State Senator. Yancey County was named in honor of Bartlett Yancey, a U.S. Congressman and Speaker of the NC Senate for 10 years. John “Yellow Jacket John” Bailey and his family conveyed 100 acres of land to the state to create the town of Burnsville (see inscription below).

The statue of Otway Burns was placed on Burnsville Town Square in 1909, and stands atop a 40-ton granite base from Mount Airy, NC. The statue was given to the town of Burnsville by Otway’s grandson, Walter Burns, Sr.

Yancey History Association
Website & Facebook


Inscription reads: On March 6, 1834, John “Yellow Jacket John” Bailey conveyed 100 acres, including this Square to commissioners appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly to establish a town site for Yancey County.