Telescope Gateways into Burnsville

Public Art Project

In early 2016, local glass artists began making the thousands of glass objects that will be part of Burnsville’s new Public Art Project, which will feature large telescope-like structures made of glass and steel that will anchor the West and East entrances into Burnsville.  


Public Artist Jack Mackie designed the town’s new gateways.  Jack was hired by Burnsville in 2014 to create and build new public art installations.  “There’s a long history of arts and crafts here,” Mackie says.  “I wanted to come to work with this community.”   

Watch 2 new videos on Burnsville’s Public Art Project.  


The handmade glass objects will be placed into metal wire-mesh baskets, which will then be wrapped around tall steel cylinders to give the sculptures their distinct telescope look.  The colors reflect sunrise for the East entrance, and sunset for the West.

Bare Dark Sky Observatory

Mayland Community College recently launched its new Bare Dark Sky Observatory on Highway 80 North in Yancey County. The large StarStructure Newtonian telescope has a 34-inch mirror, making it one of the largest telescopes in the Southeastern United States. 


 The Bare Dark Sky Observatory is built on a mountaintop at the site of the old landfill (closed in 1994) in a Dark Sky area. The telescope is housed in a building with a roll-off roof at an elevation of 2,736 feet. 









Creative Economy

Over the last 25 years, many craftspeople from Burnsville and the Toe River region have earned national and international acclaim for their work. Today, professional creativity represents a main economic engine in Yancey County. There are hundreds of artists, crafters, and creators working in small studios making and selling new work.










First week of glass production at Penland School of Crafts

Toe River Artists


Courtney Dodd








Artist renderings of new gateways by Jack Mackie