north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The Yellow Mountain Road that stretches through what is today Avery County is part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. In the fall of 1780 an army of backcountry men left western Virginia and marched towards what would become the Battle of Kings Mountain. The troops were given the nickname of the “Over Mountain Men” or “Back Water Men.” The term “Over Mountain Men” has been used to describe other groups of patriots during this time, but it mostly represents the Appalachia men who crossed through the backcountry regions of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina on their way to Kings Mountain. The majority of these men were of Scotch-Irish decent and had settled in the backcountry regions in the mid-1700s.

     The group was comprised of men led by Colonel Isaac Shelby from Sullivan County in present-day Tennessee; Colonel William Campbell from Washington County, Virginia; Charles McDowell with men from Wilkes and Rutherford counties, North Carolina; and John Sevier, also of Sullivan County. All of the groups of militiamen met along the Watauga River on September 25. They took the only roadway that connected the backwater counties to the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They left Sycamore Flats and went through Gap Creek Mountain to the Toe River then headed south to the top of the mountain at Roan High Knob and Big Yellow Mountain. On a 100-acre tract of flat land the troops were paraded to see how they were fairing on the journey. At this point (the site of the marker) they had hiked approximately twenty-six miles.

     Along the way they stopped at Roan Mountain to rest. By the end of this first day the men had hiked up and over the mountain before making camp on their way down the mountain. There the troops separated at Gillespie Gap. Some men followed Colonel Campbell and headed south towards Turkey Cove, while the other troops crossed the Linville Mountains and spent the night at the home of Colonel Charles McDowell. The militiamen then went on to form a coalition of approximately 1,000 troops to fight and defeat the British Army on October 7th at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

     Two hundred years after the first march during the Revolution, the United States Congress established the Yellow Mountain Road as a national historic trail. In 1975 the first march took place over portions of the original trail and the Overmountain Victory Trail Association has continued the tradition ever since.

Lyman C. Draper, Kings Mountain and its Heroes (1881)
Henry B. Carrington, Eyewitness Accounts of the American Revolution, 1775-1781 (1877)
Robert Collins, The Over Mountain Men March Again (1979)
Over Mountain Victory National Trail:
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

A reenactor portrays an Over-Mountain Man on the trail

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources