Burke County with Morganton as its seat, is situated in the section of North Carolina where the rolling hills of the Piedmont blend with the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the south side of Burke County are the South Mountains. To the west are the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Burke County has about 514 square miles, or 329,469 acres, and has a population of 89,148 (census 2000). The largest landowners in Burke County, are the U.S. Government, Crescent Resources (Duke Energy Co.), and the State of North Carolina. The County also has the third largest concentration of state employment in the state through the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Department of Correction, School for the Deaf, Western Carolina Center, and Broughton Hospital. Burke County has been referred to as the “Western State Capital.”