Where to Visit?

P&W Railroad Museum

Founded in July of 1988, the Piedmont & Western Model Railroad Club has combined the talents and passions of local railroad enthusiasts to create a fictitious rail line serving Western North Carolina. The HO scale railroad runs from Marion, NC to Leadvale, TN, carrying loads across the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Total trackage covers over 1,000 feet.

Old Rock School

July 4, 1922: A parade cheered through town, marching bands played, school children sang, and speeches were made to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone of the Old Rock School. A little over a year later, in October of 1923, it opened as an educational facility to all children. A little over a year later, in October of 1923, it opened as an educational facility to all children. The building remained in continuous use until 1977. In 1986 renovations began after the Town of Valdese purchased the historic building to turn it into a multi-use facility. The Old Rock School is now the home of a 500 seat auditorium, 4 classrooms, 4 private businesses, 3 non-profits, an art studio, the Town of Valdese Community Affairs & Tourism Department, and a large event space that is rented by the public year-round.

Waldensian Heritage Museum

The Waldensian Museum reflects Waldensian architecture. Displays, including photographs, clothing, crafts, home furnishings, church furnishings, farm implements, carpentry tools, wine making tools, toys, and other household items fill the interior of the museum. Explore the legacy of the Waldensian people as you retrace their journey through Europe in the Middle Ages to their settlement here in the new world. See where they worshiped, how they lived, made wine, baked bread, and kept their heritage alive. Research their ancestry in our library and archives and discover the price they paid for liberty - theirs and yours.

Rock School Art Galleries

The Rock School Arts Foundation mission is to offer new and enriching exhibition, program, and art education for adults and children; serve as a cultural destination for tourists and visitors; and act as a resource for our local art communities.
Galleries I & II, Studio 101 - 400 Main Street West | Mon-Fri 9-5pm, Weekends by Appointment

Trail of Faith

Experience the Journey!
It was a journey of faith as the Waldenses endured their venture from the Alpine Valleys of Italy to America. Relive their experience on a tour of the Waldensian Trail of Faith, which brings their struggles to life, commemorates their sacrifices and celebrates their triumphs. Peer into the cave where the Waldenses worshiped in secret. Gaze upon the mountainside to the ancient ‘seminary’ where they translated the first full Bible into French. Known as “people of the book,” the Waldenses were embedded in the scriptures – they lived by it and died for it.

Community Theatre

Old Colony Players is a community theater company based at the Old Rock School in Valdese, NC. Live theater productions are performed year-round in the Old Rock School Auditorium. In addition to productions in the Old Rock School, Old Colony Players is also the producer of the Historic Outdoor Drama "From This Day Forward" written by Fred Cranford.

Other sites to see & experience...

Village Park Mural
The Valdese Village Park Mural is a stunning outdoor painting and small picnic park on Main Street in Valdese. Spanning the depth of the building and visually integrated adjoining landscaping, this beautiful and unique monument to the history of Valdese includes depictions of the town’s attractions and 51 "hidden" objects awaiting discovery by children of all ages.

The Arrival 
In honor of Valdese celebrating 125 years since their founding in 1893, the Valdese Public Arts Commission and the Town of Valdese have come together to create a commemorative art piece that will be located across from Valdese Town Hall on Massel Avenue. The art installation depicts the arrival of the original Waldensian settlers who came to Valdese on May 29th, 1893 as they departed the “No. 11” train at the Valdese Depot. The installation was created by the artists of Oak Hill Iron & Wood of Morganton and was designed by local artist Greg Mastin. The project features a full scale train and silhouettes of original settlers made out of iron. Standing between twelve and fifteen feet tall and extending parallel to Massel Avenue for over thirty feet, the installation will honor those who founded Valdese. The original settlers will be listed on a bronze plaque which will be created by the Waldensian Heritage Museum. The installation also features a boardwalk and gazebo.

Waldensian Presbyterian Church
The history of the Waldensian Presbyterian Church is so intertwined with the history of the town of Valdese that it is impossible to study one without embracing the other. In education and industry, as well as in the religious life of the community, the Church has been and continues to be the center of Waldensian life in Valdese. The "Celebration of the Edict of Emancipation" is an annual event at the Waldensian Presbyterian Church in Valdese. Commemorating the granting of political and civil liberties to the Waldenses, this tradition began on the night of February 17, 1848 as the villages throughout the valleys of Italy lit fires to celebrate the rights they had finally been given. Today's celebration concludes with a bonfire. Each Christmas, the Presbyterian Church stages an outdoor, living drama reenacting the story of Jesus' birth. For the 2017 Christmas Season the Live Nativity will be performed in December (dates & times to be announced).

Le Phare des Alpes (LPDA)
301 Laurel Street SE Valdese NC 28690
The families of the early settlers of Valdese faced all of the problems faced today by growing families. However, there were some major differences in the approach to solving these problems. The settlers in Valdese in the early 1900's did not have hospitalization insurance, burial insurance, nor any of the other social welfare practices to which we are accustomed today. In order to have a system for helping their friends and neighbors in the time of need, a group of men met on May 8, 1909 to discuss the formation of an organization to meet some of these needs. Thus was born Le Phare des Alpes. The name, Le Phares des Alpes, means the beacon or the lighthouse of the Alpes. It was probably intended to be interpreted figuratively as the place to come for help. The name is symbolized on the Society's lapel pin which shows a lighthouse above green mountain peaks. During the early days of the organization, it met a major need of the struggling colony by providing an insurance program of sorts. The benefits were not great by today's standards, but were adequate for the times. The organization has continued for 103 years and is in a stronger position than it has ever been.  In 2005 the insurance benefits were terminated, but the organization continues as an going entity. During 1984 it was incorporated as a non-profit corporation. In 1928, the building was purchased from the Valdese Young Men's Club and became the permanent home of the Society.  Over the years many improvements have been made including a kitchen area, renovated Boccie Courts, bread making oven, and modern heating/air unit. The Society sponsors annual events along with the regular meetings. The facility may be reserved by members for special occasions. The LPDA is the annual host of the Regional Bocce Tournament held in conjuction with the annual Historic Valdese Waldensian Festival. Find out more about the bocce tournaments here. 

Day Trips Available for groups of 15 or more - Find out more here

Learn more about other attractions in Burke County here

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