"A mountain county in North Carolina, McDowell remains a predominately rural county with forest land covering most of the region. Historian William Powell writes that “roughly 75 percent of the county remains forested and boasts a wide array of wildlife, waterfalls, and scenic vistas.” Some natural traits as well as historic commemorations serve as popular attractions in McDowell County.
Linville Caverns, located underneath the McDowell-Avery County border, draws in numerous explorers and tourists each year. The Arrowhead Monument, a 15-foot arrowhead, and the Mountain Gateway Museum are both located in Old Fort. Originally sculpted from a large piece of pink granite in 1930, the Arrowhead Monument commends the Catawba and Cherokee, the Indian tribes that first lived in present-McDowell County.
Other important attractions in McDowell County include the Carson House and Andrews Geyser. Built in the late 1700s by politician John Carson, the house once operated as the courthouse of the early county. In addition to its purpose as a courthouse, the Carson House became a gathering place for politicians and other socialites during the 1800s. The Carson lineage continued to add and renovate the Carson House throughout the nineteenth century. Eventually several McDowell County residents purchased the house, and it became a public museum in 1964.
Andrews Geyser, a man-made waterspout finished in 1885, attracted railway passengers who passed through McDowell County. Created from a dam of Mill Creek, Andrews Geyser once spouted water 250 feet into the air every few minutes during the late nineteenth century. However, the original geyser deteriorated in 1903. George Baker, a prominent New York banker, sought to restore the man-made spout, moving it to land owned by the Southern Railway Company. Baker renamed the geyser in recognition of the owner of Southern Railway, Alexander Andrews. However, as the railway transportation service declined with the advent of automobiles Southern Railway let the spout dissipate. Eventually, a renovation fund was started, and the geyser was repaired in 1976.