Watauga County, North Carolina

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Watauga County, North Carolina
Seal of Watauga County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Watauga County
Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of USA NC
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1849
Named for Watauga River
Seat Boone
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

313 sq mi (811 km²)
313 sq mi (811 km²)
0 sq mi (0 km²), 0.07%
 - (2010)
 - Density

163.4/sq mi (63/km²)

Watauga (pronunciation: /wɑːˈtɑːwɡɑː/) [1] County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The 2000 U.S. Census listed the county's population as 42,695; the 2010 U.S. Census listed the population as 51,079. Its county seat and largest town is Boone.[2]

History Edit

The county was formed in 1849 from parts of Ashe County, Caldwell County, Wilkes County, and Yancey County. It was named for the Watauga River, whose name is said to be a Native American word, the meaning of which is in dispute among various histories with translations ranging from beautiful water, whispering waters, village of many springs, and river of islands, to name a few.[3]

In 1861 parts of Watauga County, Burke County, Caldwell County, McDowell County, and Yancey County were combined to form Mitchell County. In 1911, parts of Watauga County, Caldwell County, and Mitchell County were combined to form Avery County.

Country music pioneer Al Hopkins was born in Watauga County in 1889.

Eight-time Grammy Award winner Doc Watson was born in Watauga County in 1923 and maintained his home in the community of Deep Gap until his death.

Law and governmentEdit

Watauga County is a member of the regional High Country Council of Governments.

Climate and WeatherEdit

As with most of North Carolina's High Country, the climate of Watauga County is that of a Humid continental climate characterized by considerably cooler and more drastic weather than other parts of the state. Dramatic and unexpected changes in the weather are not uncommon in the county, particularly when it comes to precipitation. Windy conditions, sudden temperature drops, and even freezing precipitation in late spring and early autumn is quite common. This is partly due to the elevation of the county, and partly due to orographic lifting, which causes precipitation to fall more readily in Watauga County than in lowland areas to the east. Snow and/or sleet has been reported in the county in every month of the year except for July. Windy conditions, also, tend to be amplified across the county due to the rugged terrain and high elevation. Many people have noted that the winters of Watauga County tend to resemble those of the northern United States instead of the South.

Because of the cold weather in Watauga County, the area is home to several ski resorts. Among them is Appalachian Ski Mountain.

Snake Sunset

Snake Mountain (5,555') in Northern Watauga County


K-8 schoolsEdit

  • Valle Crucis
  • Blowing Rock
  • Parkway
  • Hardin Park
  • Green Valley
  • Bethel
  • Cove Creek
  • Mabel
  • Two Rivers Community School
  • Grace Academy

High schoolEdit

  • Watauga High

Colleges and universitiesEdit


  • The county produces heavy amounts of Fraser Fir Christmas Trees
  • The growth of produce was once a mainstay in the agricultural economy of the county. Cabbage was once widely grown, so much so, that a sauerkraut plant was once located in Boone. The plant has long been closed. Boone Creek, the main creek that runs through Boone and the Appalachian State University campus is still nicknamed Kraut Creek since it is said that the creek used to smell of sauerkraut juice coming out of the plant.
  • The Watauga County Farmers' Market has been operating in Boone since 1974.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 313 square miles (810 km2), of which, 313 square miles (810 km2) of it is land and 0 square miles (0 km2) of it (0.07%) is water. Watauga County is extremely mountainous, and all of the county's terrain is located within the Appalachian Mountains range. The highest point in the county is Calloway Peak, the highest peak of Grandfather Mountain (shared with the adjacent counties of Avery and Caldwell), which rises to 5,964 feet (1,818 meters) above sea level. At an elevation of 5,506 feet (1,678 meters) above sea level, Beech Mountain is the highest incorporated community east of the Mississippi River. Boone, the county's largest city and county seat, has the highest elevation (3,333 feet) of any city over 10,000 population in the Eastern United States.

National protected areasEdit


As a result of its relatively high elevation, Watauga County enjoys considerably cooler summers than most of the rest of the southeastern United States. Likewise, winters are longer, harsher, and often much colder, with frequent sleet and snowfall, and blizzard-like conditions are not uncommon, especially at the higher elevations. Boone, NC Historical Climate Summary

The county government provides a GIS interface on the county website (see links below).


The county is divided into fifteen townships: Bald Mountain, Beaverdam, Blowing Rock, Blue Ridge, Boone, Brushy Fork, Cove Creek, Bethel, Deep Gap, Meat Camp, New River, North Fork, Shawneehaw, Stony Fork, and Todd.

Adjacent countiesEdit


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 42,695 people, 16,540 households, and 9,411 families residing in the county. The population density was 137 people per square mile (53/km²). There were 23,155 housing units at an average density of 74 per square mile (29/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.45% White, 1.59% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.59% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.45% from other races, and 0.62% from two or more races. 1.46% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.

According to the 2000 Census the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Watauga County were: English (25.1%), German (22.5%) and Irish (13.3%). Most of those claiming Irish ancestry in Watauga county are actually of Scots-Irish/Ulster-Scots Protestant background and not Irish Catholics.

There were 16,540 households out of which 23.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.40% were married couples living together, 6.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.10% were non-families. 28.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.80.

The age distribution is 16.30% under the age of 18, 27.80% from 18 to 24, 23.40% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. The overall age distribution and median age are greatly affected by the presence of Appalachian State University in Boone. For every 100 females there are 99.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,611, and the median income for a family was $45,508. Males had a median income of $29,135 versus $22,006 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,258. About 7.20% of families and 17.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.50% of those under age 18 and 10.60% of those age 65 or over.


Map of Watauga County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels

Map of Watauga County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels

Unincorporated communitiesEdit

Transportation Edit

No commercial airports or passenger train depots are nearby. AMTRAK serves High Point and Winston-Salem in the nearby Piedmont area, and Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) bus provides connecting shuttle service to Watauga County. A helipad is in service at the Watauga Medical Center. A small general aviation airstrip (FAA Identifier: NC14) is located in Boone. Commercial airline passengers typically utilize the airports at Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina, or Tri-Cities in Tennessee. There is a public transport system in Boone provided by Appalcart that services the downtown and some outlying areas, with special routes to rural areas and intercity transit routes to Wilkes, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Lenoir, Hickory, Lincolnton, Gastonia and Charlotte for a small fee.[5]

Major highwaysEdit

See alsoEdit

Footnotes Edit

  1. ^ Talk Like A Tarheel, from the North Carolina Collection's website at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Scherlen, Allan. "What In The World Is Watauga?" The Mountain Times, 38 (April 27, 2000): 2 (3 p.).
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "appalcart". Retrieved 6 April 2011. 

Further readingEdit

External links Edit

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Coordinates: 36°14′N 81°42′W / 36.23, -81.70

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Watauga County, North Carolina. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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