A monument was erected at Gillespie Gap, near Spruce Pine and Little Switzerland to honor the Over Mountain Men who marched through the gap on the way to Kings Mountain in 1780, to Francis Marion and his battle with the Cherokee Indians, and to the 30th Division who broke the Hindenburg line in World War I. Judge Heriot Clarkson served on the North Carolina Historical Commission that constructed the marker, which was paid for with donations. An elaborate ceremony to dedicate the monument was held at 11 a.m. July 4, 1927 and featured then-Governor Angus McLean, former Governor Cameron Morrison, former Secretary of the Navy and then-Raleigh News & Observer editor Josephus Daniels, and other dignitaries. Anna Jackson Preston, great-granddaughter of Stonewall Jackson assisted in the unveiling of the monument. Months of preparation had gone into the event as citizens from Burke, McDowell, Yancey, Avery, Mitchell Counties were placed on committees for the historic event. As are listed in the program, scores of people represented every community in the 4 counties. Those included were citizens from Plumtree to the Mitchell County Line, Crossnore, Altamont, and Linville Falls, Altapass, Beaver Creek, Ledger, Penland, Bakersville, Banner Elk, Spruce Pine, Little Rock Creek, Big Rock Creek, Red Hill to Relief, Lunday, Bald Creek, Bald Mountain, Burnsville, Micaville, Celo, Estatoe, Marion, Old Fort, Mount Mitchell, Mica, Sevier, Toecane, Little Switzerland, Morganton, and Wildacres. (For a complete list of those involved, click on the pages of the program).
The plaque reads:
ON FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29, 1780, A LARGE PART THE AMERICAN ARMY PASSED THIS SPOT, UNDER COMMAND OF COLONELS WILLIAM CAMPBELL, ISSAC SHELBY AND JOHN SEVIER ON THEIR MARCH TO THE BATTLE OF KINGS MOUNTAIN WHERE THE BRITISH AND TORY FORCES, NUMBERING 1187, ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN UNDER COLONEL PATRICK FERGUSON WERE CAPTURED OR KILLED AND THEIR LEADER SLAIN ON OCTOBER 7, 1780. THE AMERICAN VOLUNTEER PATRIOTS UNDER COLONEL WILLIAM CAMPBELL, BENJAMIN CLEVELAND, ISSAC SHELBY, JOHN SEVIER, JOSEPH MCDOWELL, EDWARD LACY, JAMES WILLIAMS, SAMUEL HAMMOND, JOSEPH WINSTON, FEDRICK HAMBRIGHT, AND OTHER DARING LEADERS IN THE WAR FOR AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE SURROUNDED AND WENT UP THE MOUNTAIN AND THUS / DEFEATED THE BRITISH AND TORIES. WITH THE DEFEAT OF KING’S MOUNTAIN BEGAN THE DOWNFALL OF BRITISH RULE IN AMERICA
THE ONLY REGIMENT INTACT IN THE CAROLINAS, EAST OF KINGS MOUNTAIN AT THIS TIME WAS THE MARION BRIGADE, FAMOUS IN SONG AND STORY, COMMANDED BY GENERAL FRANCIS MARION IN THE WAR WITH THE CHEROKEE INDIANS IN 1761. 30 MEN UNDER THE COMMAND OF MARION WERE SENT TO DISLODGE THE INDIANS IN ETCHOE PASS, SO THE MAIN ARMY COULD GO THROUGH. 21 OF THE MEN UNDER MARION WERE KILLED BY THE FIRST FIRE OF THE INDIANS. MARION WAS UNHURT. THE HEROISM OF THE EARLY PATRIOTS SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN. THE CONDUCT OF MARION AND HIS MEN IN ETCHOE PASS ALMOST EQUALLED THE HEROISM OF LEONIDAS AND HIS BRAVE BAND OF / SPARTANS AT THE PASS OF THERMOPYLAE.
THIS HIGHWAY LEADING TO MARION IS NAMED IN HIS HONOR ETCHOE PASS.
IT WAS THE NORTH CAROLINA AND SOUTH CAROLINA AND TENNESSEE TROOPS – THE 30TH DIVISION – IN THE WORLD WAR THAT BROKE THE HINDENBURG LINE.
ERECTED BY NORTH CAROLINA HISTORICAL COMMISSION HERIOT CLARKSON AND W.C. NIVEN / REID QUEEN COMMITTEE