About the Center

The Center for Pioneer Life is a project of the Strawbridge and Martha Wilson Young Foundation. Its mission is to preserve the legacy of the Southern Appalachian pioneer families who settled this region and experience how they lived. The Center is located on 12 acres of prime farmland, three miles from downtown Burnsville in the scenic valley of Shoal Creek. The descendants of Strawbridge and Martha Wilson Young, one of the region’s founding families, settled this property more than 180 years ago. The Center features panoramic views of Celo Knob as well as the reconstructed Josiah and Frances Ray Young Cabin.

We are creating a center for experiential education where visitors will learn how pioneer families lived as they take an interactive journey through time. We envision a model subsistence farm brimming with activities and learning opportunities while also providing a high-quality academic and research environment.

Our program is designed to answer these questions:

  • Who were the pioneers who settled this region?

  • Where did they come from and why did they come?

  • When and how did they come?

  • What did they find when they arrived?

  • How did they live?

The Center for Pioneer Life utilizes a skillful combination of research, publications, lectures, videos, exhibits, oral history, genealogical studies, and hands-on activities to meet these objectives:

  • Preserve and promote the heritage of the pioneers who settled this region.

  • Understand how they lived and make these experiences available for future generations. 

  • Become a significant destination site for researchers, descendants, students, community members, and visitors.

  • Become a valuable economic asset for the region.

Follow Us

Find peace, tranquility, and relaxation at our guest house in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Contact Us

Telephone 828.536.0337

Email hello@pioneerlife.org

Address 134 Joe Young Road

Burnsville, North Carolina 28714

We welcome visitors by appointment.