North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges (1954-1961) opened the North Carolina Museum of Minerals in June 1955.

On June 17, 1955, the Museum of NC Minerals was officially opened at Gillespie Gap with North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges presenting the museum to United States National Park Service Director Conrad L. Wirth. The museum was a joint project between the state of North Carolina, which built it, and the National Park Service, which provided the seven-acre site adjoining the Blue Ridge Parkway. The National Park Service wouldMinerals Museum Dedication staff the facility. The building was constructed of native stone quarried below Grandfather Mountain. Local officials were also obviously instrumental in spearheading the effort for the completion of such a unique attraction. Those with local ties included Carroll P. Rogers, Sr., S.T. Henry, John C. McBee Sr., Linten Greene, Frank H. Watson, and S.W. Enloe. The idea of a museum highlighting the Spruce Pine Mining District’s invaluable mining resources dated back to at least 1939. Many other prominent dignitaries were present at the event as were many local citizens. At the time of the opening of the museum, over 300 minerals from North Carolina were on display inside. The Spruce Pine Mining District contains the state’s largest deposits of feldspar, kaolin, mica, and quartz. (In 1955 no one at the dedication could have fathomed the importance that quartz from Spruce Pine would play in the global technological transformation. The region contains the purest quartz found anywhere on planet earth. Because of that purity, every computer chip on the planet is manufactured using quartz from Spruce Pine.) Governor Hodges in his address to the crowd on that day in 1955 would proclaim, “Not only should the opening of this museum serve to stimulate interest generally in the further development of our minerals industry, but it will also prove to be an outstanding attraction for the tens of thousands of tourists who come to this wonderful section of our state.” Sixty-four years later those words still ring true. Thousands of visitors still visit the museum every year.