Gaston County
County of Gaston
Gaston County Courthouse in Gastonia
Gaston County Courthouse in Gastonia
Official seal of Gaston County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Gaston County
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 35°18′N 81°11′W / 35.3°N 81.18°W / 35.3; -81.18
Country United States
State North Carolina
FoundedDecember 21, 1846
Named forWilliam Gaston
SeatGastonia
Largest cityGastonia
Area
 • Total364 sq mi (940 km2)
 • Land356 sq mi (920 km2)
 • Water8.1 sq mi (21 km2)  2.2%%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2021)
230,856
 • Density648.5/sq mi (250.4/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts10th, 14th
Websitewww.gastongov.com

Gaston County is a county in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 227,943.[1] The county seat is Gastonia.[2] Dallas served as the original county seat from 1846 until 1911.

Gaston County is included in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is the fourth largest county in the metropolitan area, behind Mecklenburg County, York County and Union County as of the 2018 US Census estimates.[3] It is located in the southern Piedmont region.

Of North Carolina's 100 counties, Gaston County ranks 74th in size, consisting of approximately 364.5 square miles (944 km2), and is tenth in population[4][circular reference]. The county has fifteen incorporated towns.[5] In addition to fifteen incorporated towns and cities, there are several unincorporated communities such as Hardin, Lucia, Crowders Mountain, Sunnyside, Alexis, Tryon, and North Belmont.[6]

History

The earliest European settlers of Gaston County were principally Scots Irish, Pennsylvania Dutch, and English. In the 1750s, Dutch settler James Kuykendall and others constructed the Fort at the Point at the junction of the Catawba and South Fork Rivers.[7] The fort was built because of ongoing hostilities with the Cherokee, but it was apparently never attacked. Tensions between the settlers and the Native American inhabitants (primarily of the Catawba tribe) were eased considerably when the boundary dispute between North Carolina and South Carolina was settled in 1772, after which most of the Catawba settled on a reservation near Fort Mill, South Carolina.[8]

Most early farms were small, cultivated primarily by White yeoman farmers of English ancestry. North Carolina's colonial policy restricted the size of land grants, and in Gaston County they tended to be about 400 acres (1.6 km2) each. One of the earliest grants in the area was given to Captain Samuel Cobrin, commander of a local militia company, on September 29, 1750.[9]

Gaston County was founded in 1846. It is named for William Gaston, member of the state supreme court.[10]

Between 1845 and 1848, Gaston County experienced an industrial boom. During this three-year period, the first three cotton mills in the county were established. Some sources claim that the first one was established by Thomas R. Tate on Mountain Island, near the present site of Duke Energy's Mountain Island Dam and Hydroelectric Station. Other sources say that the first mill was established by the Linebergers and others on the South Fork River near McAdenville. Most sources agree that among the first three mills in operation in the county was the Stowesville Mill, founded by Jasper Stowe and associates in the South Point Community south of Belmont. Gaston County still leads all other counties in the country both in the number of spindles in operation and in the number of bales of cotton consumed.[8]

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 364 square miles (940 km2), of which 356 square miles (920 km2) is land and 8.1 square miles (21 km2) (2.2%) is water.[11] It belongs to the southern Piedmont physiographic province.[12]

Most of Gaston County is in the drainage basin of the Catawba River, except for small areas along the western edge of the county which are in the basin of the Broad River. Both the Catawba and Broad Rivers are in the greater Santee River basin. The Catawba forms the eastern border of the county and much of the central part of the county is in the drainage basin of its right tributary, the South Fork Catawba River.[13] The county is located in the Piedmont region of central North Carolina, which consists of gently rolling terrain frequently broken by hills, river and creek valleys, and low, isolated mountain ridges. The highest point in Gaston County is King's Pinnacle, a rocky monadnock which sharply rises over 800 feet (240 m) above the city of Gastonia. King's Pinnacle rises 1,690 feet (520 m) above sea level, and is part of Crowders Mountain State Park.[14]

Sate and local protected areas/sites

Major water-bodies

Adjacent counties

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
18508,073
18609,30715.3%
187012,60235.4%
188014,25413.1%
189017,76424.6%
190027,90357.1%
191037,06332.8%
192051,24238.3%
193078,09352.4%
194087,53112.1%
1950110,83626.6%
1960127,07414.7%
1970148,41516.8%
1980162,5689.5%
1990175,0937.7%
2000190,3658.7%
2010206,0868.3%
2020227,94310.6%
2021 (est.)230,856[15]1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]
1790-1960[17] 1900-1990[18]
1990-2000[19] 2010-2014[20]
2020[21]

2020 census

Gaston County racial composition[22]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 153,653 67.41%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 39,762 17.44%
Native American 753 0.33%
Asian 3,509 1.54%
Pacific Islander 59 0.03%
Other/Mixed 10,139 4.45%
Hispanic or Latino 20,068 8.8%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 227,943 people, 85,705 households, and 55,868 families residing in the county.

2004

As of the census[23] of 2004, there were 194,459 people, 73,936 households, and 53,307 families residing in the county. The population density was 534 people per square mile (206/km2). There were 78,842 housing units at an average density of 221 per square mile (85/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 83% White, 13.9% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 1% from two or more races. 3.00% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 92,094 males and 98,271 females in Gaston County. Of these 39,492 are under 15, 23,082 are aged 16–24, 59,096 are aged 25–44, 44,710 are aged between 45-64 and 23,985 are 65 and over. The median age is 36.89 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,482, and the median income for a family was $46,271. Males had a median income of $33,542 versus $23,876 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,225. About 8.30% of families and 10.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.50% of those under age 18 and 11.10% of those age 65 or over.

Economy

Piedmont Lithium is a mining company currently in the process of proving economic mineral recovery of lithium in Gaston County. After five years of surface prospecting, the company is currently drilling many sample cores across 2,300 acres (930 ha) of land it owns or has mineral rights to the county proving economic viability of mining lithium for the boom in battery demand to support electric vehicle and other uses in the 2020s.[24]

Law and government

Gaston County is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners. Two members are elected from Gaston Township and one each from the other five townships of Gaston County. They are elected on a partisan basis to four-year staggered terms. Those that file for a particular seat must live in the township. However, the vote is countywide or "at-large."[25]

The offices of Sheriff, District Attorney, Clerk of Superior Court, and Register of Deeds are also elected offices, elected on a countywide, partisan basis. Gaston County currently is divided into forty-six (46) voting precincts.[26]

The county is administered by a full-time professional County Manager. Gaston County is a member of the regional Centralina Council of Governments.[27]

County officers

Board of Commissioners

Office[28] Holder Party Term expires
County Commissioner (Chairman) Tracy Philbeck Republican 2022
County Commissioner (Vice Chair) Jack Brown Republican 2020
County Commissioner Chad Brown Republican 2022
County Commissioner Allen Fraley Republican 2020
County Commissioner Bob Hovis Republican 2020
County Commissioner Tom Keigher Republican 2022
County Commissioner Ronnie Worley Republican 2020

Soil & Water Conservation District supervisors

Holder[28] Term expires
Becca Hurd 2022
Roger Hurst 2020
Esther Scott 2022
Robin Armstrong Appointed
Kevin Mauney Appointed

Superior court judges

Office[28] Holder Party Term expires
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jesse B. Caldwell III Democratic 2022
Superior Court Judge David Phillips Democratic 2020

District court judges

Office[28] Holder Party Term expires
Chief District Court Judge John K. Greenlee Republican 2020
District Court Judge Richard B. Abernethy Democratic 2020
District Court Judge Craig Collins Republican 2022
District Court Judge Angela G. Hoyle Republican 2020
District Court Judge James A. Jackson Republican 2020
District Court Judge Michael K. Lands Republican 2022
District Court Judge Pennie Thrower Republican 2020

Other offices

Office[28] Holder Party Term expires
Register of Deeds Susan Lockridge Republican 2020
District Attorney R. Locke Bell Republican 2022
Clerk of Superior Court Larry Brown Republican 2022

North Carolina General Assembly

North Carolina House of Representatives

District Representative[28] Party
108 John A. Torbett Republican
109 Donnie Loftis Republican
110 Kelly Hastings Republican

North Carolina Senate

District[28] Representative Party
43 Kathy Harrington Republican
44 Ted Alexander Republican

Federal offices

Senate

Senator[28] Party Term expires
Richard Burr Republican 2022
Thom Tillis Republican 2026

House of Representatives

District[28] Representative Party
5th Virginia Foxx Republican

Courts of law

North Carolina has a unified statewide and state-operated court system, called the General Court of Justice. It consists of three divisions: appellate courts, superior courts, and district courts. In Gaston County, there is also a small claims Court.

Small claims court handles civil cases where a plaintiff requests assignment to a magistrate and the amount in controversy is $5,000 or less. There is no jury and usually no lawyers. A person who loses in small claims court may appeal for a trial by jury before a judge in district court. Magistrates are appointed for two-year terms by the senior resident superior court judge upon nomination of the clerk of superior court.[29]

Politics

United States presidential election results for Gaston County, North Carolina[30]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 73,033 63.23% 40,959 35.46% 1,506 1.30%
2016 61,798 64.09% 31,177 32.33% 3,456 3.58%
2012 56,138 62.04% 33,171 36.66% 1,174 1.30%
2008 52,507 62.21% 31,384 37.18% 511 0.61%
2004 43,252 67.84% 20,254 31.77% 249 0.39%
2000 39,453 66.67% 19,281 32.58% 445 0.75%
1996 33,149 58.42% 19,458 34.29% 4,132 7.28%
1992 34,714 56.51% 19,121 31.12% 7,600 12.37%
1988 34,775 70.32% 14,582 29.49% 94 0.19%
1984 39,167 73.36% 14,142 26.49% 83 0.16%
1980 25,139 55.61% 19,016 42.07% 1,049 2.32%
1976 19,727 46.13% 22,878 53.50% 159 0.37%
1972 27,956 75.76% 8,462 22.93% 483 1.31%
1968 18,741 43.77% 10,100 23.59% 13,973 32.64%
1964 17,129 45.89% 20,197 54.11% 0 0.00%
1960 21,250 51.39% 20,104 48.61% 0 0.00%
1956 18,159 53.68% 15,671 46.32% 0 0.00%
1952 19,157 51.86% 17,781 48.14% 0 0.00%
1948 6,180 32.58% 8,966 47.27% 3,822 20.15%
1944 6,023 30.47% 13,744 69.53% 0 0.00%
1940 4,294 19.92% 17,262 80.08% 0 0.00%
1936 4,772 21.37% 17,555 78.63% 0 0.00%
1932 5,164 28.36% 12,890 70.78% 157 0.86%
1928 9,702 59.14% 6,702 40.86% 0 0.00%
1924 3,566 34.95% 6,554 64.24% 82 0.80%
1920 5,803 44.81% 7,148 55.19% 0 0.00%
1916 2,542 45.62% 3,019 54.18% 11 0.20%
1912 244 6.22% 2,333 59.45% 1,347 34.33%
1908 1,970 44.69% 2,398 54.40% 40 0.91%
1904 896 31.12% 1,958 68.01% 25 0.87%
1900 1,626 44.98% 1,931 53.42% 58 1.60%
1896 1,625 43.60% 2,069 55.51% 33 0.89%
1892 1,173 36.58% 1,616 50.39% 418 13.03%
1888 1,260 42.90% 1,589 54.10% 88 3.00%
1884 978 41.46% 1,356 57.48% 25 1.06%
1880 1,139 50.69% 1,107 49.27% 1 0.04%


Education

Public education in Gaston County is administered by the Gaston County Schools public school system. The system is governed by the nine-member Gaston County Board of Education which sets policy and establishes guidelines for school operations. Board members are elected on a nonpartisan, county wide basis, with seven representatives chosen from the six townships and two members selected at-large.[31] Gaston County Schools has 54 public schools, including 9 high schools, 11 middle schools, 32 elementary schools, one alternative school (middle and high school age), and one separate school (Webb Street School in Gastonia) serving students ages 3 to 22 with moderate to severe disabilities.

Gaston County has four charter schools: Community Public Charter School (K-7) in Stanley, Ridgeview Charter School (K–4) in Gastonia, Piedmont Community Charter School (K–12) in Gastonia, and Mountain Island Charter School (K–8) in Mount Holly.[32]

There are two colleges in Gaston County. Gaston College is a community college located in Dallas offering associate degree, Certificate, and Diploma programs. Belmont Abbey College is a Roman Catholic Liberal Arts College located in Belmont.

The Gaston County Public Library has 10 branches spread throughout the county.

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

Rail service

Gaston County is served by Amtrak, with a stop in Gastonia. Freight rail service is provided by the Norfolk Southern Railway, CSX and Patriot Rail.

The Norfork Southern main line passes from west to east across the county, passing through Kings Mountain, Bessemer City, Gastonia, Ranlo, Lowell, Cramerton and Belmont. From Gastonia, a branch line leads south to Crowders.[33]

CSX rail lines pass through the northwestern and northeastern corners of Gaston County. In the northwest, a line between Lincolnton and Shelby passes through Cherryville. In the northeast, a line between Lincolnton and Charlotte passes through Stanley and Mount Holly.[34]

Progressive Rail operates state-owned trackage between Gastonia and Mount Holly with a spur extending to Belmont.[35]

Airports

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is a major, full-service airport with passenger flights. It is across the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County in Charlotte.

The city of Gastonia owns and operates Gastonia Municipal Airport, which is a general aviation airport with a single runway, Runway 3/21, an asphalt runway that is 3,779 feet in length.[36]

Natural heritage

Gaston County's most significant natural heritage sites are distributed across the county. They range from Crowders Mountain in the southwest corner to sites east of Stanley and at the mouth of the South Fork Catawba River.

Gaston County has twelve natural heritage sites listed as being of state or regional significance. Six of these are listed because of the presence of the bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla). This magnificent plant has the largest simple leaf of any species in the temperate world, and one of the largest flowers. Of the 34 known sites containing bigleaf magnolias in North Carolina, 29 are in Gaston County.[37]

Two sites are important because they provide habitat for the bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii). The bog turtle is the single most significant rare animal species surviving in Gaston County.[38]

Crowders Mountain State Park is the largest natural heritage site in the county. It covers over 3,000 acres (12 km2) of topographically, botanically, and zoologically diverse land. Six natural plant communities are found in the park, and the area supports a diversity of wildlife species. Some animals documented in the park have not been documented elsewhere in the county. A second natural heritage site, Pinnacle Road, has recently been incorporated into the park. This site is most significant for the occurrence of dwarf juniper (Juniperus communis) along its ridgeline.[39]

The Stagecoach Road site is the largest and best preserved granitic outcrop in the county. Its thin soils are dominated by hickory species and it is also home to several smaller species such as Talinum teretifolium (fame flower), Diamorpha smallii (Small's sedum), and Hypericum gentianoides (pineweed) that are found only in this type of habitat. A farm site contains an old growth forest dominated by beech, yellow poplar, oaks, and maples - some trees with diameters of nearly 3 feet (0.91 m).[40]

Another 25 sites are listed as being of local significance. Two of these are home to extremely rare plants. Catawba Cove, near the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, supports a stand of Schweinitz's sunflower (Helianthus schweinizii), a federally endangered species. The Armstrong Ford site near Belmont is the only place in western North Carolina (and one of only two sites in the state) where magnolia vine (Schisandra glabra) has been found.[41]

Points of interest

The Hoyle Historic Homestead, with notable German-American construction features, is the oldest extant structure in Gaston County. Located on the Dallas-Stanley Highway above the South Fork Catawba River, it was built around 1760 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden covers 110 acres (0.45 km2) in the South Point area of Gaston County, on South New Hope Road.

The Gaston County Museum is located in the town of Dallas, North Carolina.[42]

The Schiele Museum of Natural History is a science museum and planetarium located in Gastonia that features both permanent and touring exhibits.[43]

Crowder's Mountain State Park is noted for its resident raptors and sheer vertical cliffs which drop 150 feet (46 m). From Crowders Mountain, the highest point in Gaston County, views stretch for more than 20 miles (32 km).

The U.S. National Whitewater Center is a world-class recreation and training facility. Set among 300 acres (1.2 km2) wooded along the scenic Catawba River, the multiuse facility has a climbing center, mountain-biking trails and running trails.[citation needed]

Christmas Town USA - McAdenville, North Carolina - Each December, hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights turn this small mill town into a spectacular holiday display. Visitors stroll down Main Street surrounded by the sights and sounds of Christmas.

Spencer Mountain, which is located in central Gaston County, is the site of the old WBTV television transmitter. It was from this site that the first commercial television signal in North Carolina was broadcast, when WBTV signed on the air in 1949. The tower remains on the mountain today, but is no longer in use as WBTV's primary transmitter. It is used by NWS for its NOAA Weather Radio transmission signal.

Communities

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

Cities

Towns

Townships

Unincorporated communities

See also

References

  1. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Gaston County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "QuickFacts". Archived from the original on September 5, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  4. ^ List of counties in North Carolina
  5. ^ "About Gaston County".
  6. ^ "About Gaston County". www.gastongov.com. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  7. ^ Piper Peters Aheron. Images of America: Gastonia and Gaston County North Carolina. Arcadia Publishing, 2001 (ISBN 0738506737)
  8. ^ a b County Profile - "Gaston County Profile". Archived from the original on February 29, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2008.. Gaston County government official website. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  9. ^ Robert F. Cope and Hanley Wade Wellman, The County of Gaston: Two Centuries of a North Carolina Region (Gaston County Historical Society, 1961), 13, cited in Peter Hoyle House National Register Application[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 135.
  11. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  12. ^ "Our State Geography in a Snap: The Piedmont Region | NCpedia". www.ncpedia.org. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  13. ^ Gaston County Watersheds Archived September 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Piedmont North Carolina Trip Reports (GCounty High Pointers Assn., 2010), cited in [1]
  15. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Gaston County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  16. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  17. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  18. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  19. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  20. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  21. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Gaston County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  22. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  23. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  24. ^ Patterson, Scott; Ramkumar, Amrith (March 9, 2021). "America's Battery-Powered Car Hopes Ride on Lithium. One Producer Paves the Way". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on March 12, 2021. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  25. ^ "Elected Officials: Board of Commissioners". County of Gaston. Archived from the original on March 18, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  26. ^ "Polling Places". Board of Elections. County of Gaston. Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  27. ^ "About Centralina COG". CCOG. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Public Officials Directory 2020" (PDF). Gaston County Board of Elections.
  29. ^ "Welcome to Gaston County - District 27A". Nccourts.org. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  30. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  31. ^ "About the Board". Gaston County Schools. Archived from the original on May 31, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  32. ^ "Gaston County". Office of Charter Schools. NC Dept. of Public Instruction. Archived from the original on October 26, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  33. ^ "System Maps, Directories & Schedules". Norfolk Southern. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  34. ^ "CSX.com - CSX System Map". www.csx.com. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  35. ^ Barrett, Michael. "P&N Railway between Gastonia and Mount Holly under new management". Gaston Gazette. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  36. ^ "Airport Master Record, Gastonia Municipal Airport, Federal Aviation Administration" (PDF). WayBack Machine. October 9, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 9, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  37. ^ May, Alan (December 2000). Natural heritage inventory of Gaston County, N.C. Raleigh, N.C.: N.C. Natural Heritage Program, Division of Parks and Recreation, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources. pp. Whole Book. ISBN 33091007610538. ((cite book)): Check |isbn= value: length (help)
  38. ^ "Catawba Lands Conservancy to Protect More of a Region's Rare Habitat". Catawba Lands Conservancy. April 19, 2018. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  39. ^ "Ecology | NC State Parks". www.ncparks.gov. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  40. ^ "Gaston County: 2003 Environmental Report Card". Ces.ncsu.edu. Archived from the original (DOC) on March 3, 2016. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  41. ^ "The Natural Heritage of Gaston County" (PDF). WayBack Machine. May 25, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 25, 2006. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  42. ^ "Home". Gaston County Museum. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  43. ^ "Home". Schiele Museum. Retrieved February 18, 2022.

Coordinates: 35°18′N 81°11′W / 35.30°N 81.18°W / 35.30; -81.18