Click here for the 2019 River Crossing Waiver


The following is for prospective river crossers:


Historic Burke Foundation

P. O. Box 915

Morganton, NC  28680


September 14, 2019


Invitation to Participate in the Fifth Commemorative Crossing of the Catawba River at Greenlee Ford in Morganton, NC on Saturday, September 28, 2019 and Instructions for Participation


You are invited to participate in the fifth commemorative “Crossing of the Catawba” at 11:00 AM on Saturday, September 28 in Morganton, NC as part of this year’s Revolutionary War Days events sponsored by Historic Burke Foundation. This event is to honor the remembrance of the 1,400+ men who forded the Catawba River at Greenlee Ford on October 1, 1780 on their way to defeat the British at the battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780, a turning point in the American Revolution. The annual crossing is a meaningful and memorable experience for those who participate as well as for those who watch the crossing.


If you plan to cross the river, you will need to be at the entrance to the trail to the river behind the softball field at Freedom High School by no later than 10:45 AM.  It is advisable to be there by 10:30 AM. Details are addressed later in this correspondence. The crossing will begin at 11:00 AM. Persons in the lead will be members of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association (OVTA) on their Annual March from Abingdon, Virginia to Kings Mountain, South Carolina as they re-trace the route taken by the Overmountain Men 239 years ago.  As you exit the river on the Judge’s Restaurant side of the river, you will be greeted by fife and drum players from Fort Watauga in Elizabethton, Tennessee, Historic Burke Foundation members, and representatives of a number of Chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), elected officials, and members of the public.  After you exit the river, you will move towards the outdoor stage below the decks at Judge’s and remain there during the program that will immediately follow.


Ed Phillips, Executive Director of the Burke County Tourism Development Authority, will serve as emcee. The Freedom High School JROTC will present colors. The Alexander Erwin Chapter (Burke County) of the SAR and the Catawba Valley Chapter (Catawba County) of the SAR will present a color guard.  Special guest speaker will be Sally Sandy, City Manager of Morganton. Members of the OVTA will share comments about their organization. The program will end with a ceremony to name and honor the men who died at Kings Mountain and the men who were mortally wounded during the battle but died after the battle. SAR and DAR Chapters representing western North Carolina will present wreaths and the OVTA will conclude the program with a Mourning of Arms ceremony.


What You Need to Know and Do

  • You will need to sign and return a waiver (see attachment) on or before Saturday, September 21.   Note: no one will be permitted to make the crossing without having submitted a signed waiver.

  • You may wear period dress or hiking or sport clothing or “active wear”. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that will not fall off as you walk down the trail to the river, across the river, and up onto the opposite bank. 

  • If you need a walking stick, please bring one with you.

  • Bring a change of clothes and shoes to lock in your vehicle until after the river crossing. There are public bathrooms between the City Soccer Fields and the city picnic area next to Judge’s Restaurant where you can change clothes.

  • If you carry a wallet or mobile phone with you, be sure to carry it/them where there is minimal likelihood of it/them getting wet or being lost.

  • Do not bring signs or banners to wear or carry during the river crossing.

  • Do not bring animals with you.

  • You are encouraged to park your vehicle in the parking lot adjacent to the City Soccer Complex off Greenlee Ford Road near Judge’s Restaurant and the Catawba Greenway. As you face the river, the left front corner of the parking lot has a trailhead to the Catawba River Greenway; there is a kiosk there.  City of Morganton vans will meet river crossers there and shuttle them to the entrance to the trail to the river on the Freedom High School side of the river.  Shuttles will run between 9:30 AM and 10:35 AM. (If you elect to park your vehicle behind the softball field at Freedom High School, you will be responsible for finding a ride back to your vehicle after the river crossing program concludes or you may take the pedestrian bridge across the Catawba River near Judges and walk back to your vehicle.)

  • Someone from Historic Burke Foundation will greet you at the entrance to the trail to the river behind the softball field at Freedom High School, make certain you have signed a waiver, and give you instructions about lining up to progress to the river.

  • You will be organized into a loose line with those in period dress first and those in other types of clothing following.  You will be told what sound to listen for that will signal you to begin your walk down the trail to the river.

  • Please walk down the trail and into and across the river in silence.

  • Please note that Duke Energy will control the water level in the river and will keep the water at a safe level for crossing (unless we have a hurricane).


  • Usually the water is cool but not cold.

  • It is fine to hold hands to help yourself or someone else remain steady in the water.  There are some slippery rocks on the riverbed so be aware of where you put your feet.

  • The Burke Rescue Squad will have an ambulance and first responders available.

  • Ideally, everyone on the riverbank below Judge’s will be quiet as you make the crossing.  For most, it is a very moving spectacle.

  • When you exit the river, several people will be on the riverbank to help you out as needed.  There likely will be some ropes attached to poles driven into the riverbed which you may grasp as you exit the water.

  • When you exit the river, please move to the side of the outdoor stage behind Judge’s Restaurant for the remainder of the river crossing program.

  • You may buy lunch at Judge’s Restaurant any time after the conclusion of the river crossing program.  The dining room with the stone fireplace will be reserved for river crossing program guests from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM and OVTA Annual Marchers will “tell the story” of the Overmountain Men and the victory at Kings Mountain while people eat lunch.

  • If you have any questions or if you need any assistance prior to or on September 28, please call Linda Lindsey at 828-448-2923 or Almon Carr at 828-439-7529 or Beth Spahn at 814-282-7816.

  • In the event of cancellation of the crossing due to weather, signs will advise this both on Greenlee Ford Road, leading to Judge’s Restaurant, and at the entrance to Freedom High School.


Thank you!


Linda Lindsey, Mary Lou Furr, Almon Carr, Dawn Poore, and Beth Spahn, Co-Chairs

Revolutionary War Days Committee

Historic Burke Foundation



cc: Historic Burke Foundation

     Overmountain Victory Trail Association

     City of Morganton

     Duke Energy

     Burke Rescue Squad

     Judge’s Restaurant

     Freedom High School


Click here for the 2019 River Crossing Waiver




©2019 Historic Burke Foundation, Inc.

Contact us at (828) 437-4104 or

P.O. Box 915, Morganton, NC 28680

Historic Burke Foundation promotes knowledge of local culture and history through educational programming and historic site preservation.


Tel. 828-437-4104

P.O. Box 915
Morganton, NC, 28680


By appointment. Please email or call!​