Glass for Burnsville telescope
Multi-color glass for Burnsville telescope


To transform Burnsville’s entranceway along Highway 19E into a Glass Gateway with visually stunning artwork and landscaping in collaboration with N.C. Department of Transportation.


Toe River Arts Council
Town of Burnsville
Yancey County Economic Development Commission.

The Burnsville community selected nationally known artist Jack Mackie to envision a gateway plan for Highway 19E, which NCDOT is expanding into a four-lane scenic byway. Jack’s Hwy 19E Art Plan beautifully integrates artwork into Burnsville’s new entranceway.

Thirty-foot glass markers (shown below left) derive their shape from the telescope used by the town’s namesake, Admiral Otway Burns, and reference the dark night sky and future 34-foot public telescope being built nearby. Stone seating, slate quilts, and ironwork along the corridor will celebrate the area’s natural history and craft traditions. Several renowned glass artists that live in the area have worked with Mackie to develop a prototype and fabricate the glass components of the telescope markers.

Watch a short video of the making of the glass below. The first marker will be completed in October.


Assembling the telescope
Glass for Burnsville SmART project

Artist Jack Mackie
Artist Jack Mackie

Red glass for Burnsville telescope

Yellow glass for Burnsville telescope

Blue glass for Burnsville telescope

Appalachian sunrise
Appalachian sunrise

Rainbow colored glass


  • Toe River Arts Council received NEA Our Town grant, which will fund fabrication and installation of telescope markers.
  • The Gateway project is employing over 50 local artists and all materials for fabrication are being locally sourced.
  • The Town of Burnsville has committed 2-percent of capital improvement project funds to public art and $5,000 annually to implement the plan.
  • Historic Nu Wray Inn has re-opened along with a new brewery, restaurants, and businesses.
  • Increasing visitation and tourism revenue by 25-percent, as well as building pride in residents are but a few of the project’s many benefits.

Burnsville Highway 19E public art elements
Burnsville Highway 19E public art elements