Black Mountain is a small town that has played a disproportionately large role in American cultural history because of the college there. For more than 20 years in the middle of the 20th century, from its founding in 1933 to its closing in 1957, Black Mountain College was one of the world's leading centers for experimental art, literature, architecture, and dance, with a list of faculty and students that reads like a "Who's Who" of American arts and letters.
On a different front, Black Mountain is also the home of evangelist Billy Graham. The Graham organization maintains a training center near Black Mountain, and there are several large church-related conference centers in the area, including Ridgecrest, Montreat, and Blue Ridge Assembly. Downtown Black Mountain is small and quaint, with a collection of little shops and several B&Bs.