"Authentic Appalachian, Pure & Simple"
|Named for||John Haywood|
|• Total||555 sq mi (1,440 km2)|
|• Land||554 sq mi (1,430 km2)|
|• Water||0.9 sq mi (2 km2) 0.2%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||112.1/sq mi (43.3/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Haywood County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 62,089. The county seat and its largest city is Waynesville.
Haywood County is part of the Asheville, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The earliest inhabitants of the area eventually comprising Haywood County were Cherokee Native Americans. Their local population was severely impacted by a smallpox outbreak in 1715. In July 1776, during the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Cherokee warriors began attacking white settlements in western North Carolina. In response, a militia led by General Griffith Rutherford led an expedition through the region and destryoed dozens of Cherokee villages. White settlement increased after the war, with most of the settlers being of Scotch-Irish, German, and Dutch descent. The county was formed in 1808 from the western part of Buncombe County. It was named for John Haywood, who served as the North Carolina State Treasurer from 1787 to 1827. The county seat was designated at Mount Pleasant, which was renamed Waynesville in 1811. The first county courthouse was completed the following year. In 1828, a part of Haywood County was split off and made Macon County. In 1851, parts of Haywood and Macon counties were combined to form Jackson County.
The last shot of the Civil War east of the Mississippi was fired in Waynesville on May 9, 1865, when elements of the Thomas Legion (Confederate) skirmished with the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry (Union). In the 1880s, the Western North Carolina Railroad extended lines through the county, creating new economic industries centered on logging and tourism.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 555 square miles (1,440 km2), of which 554 square miles (1,430 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) (0.2%) is water. It is bordered by Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, Jackson, Swain counties in North Carolina, and Cocke and Sevier counties in Tennessee.
Haywood County lies within the French Broad River basin. Since the county's borders follow mountain ridgelines, all water in the county derives from rain fallen over it or from local springs, with no external watercourses crossing its boundaries. The Pigeon River originates in Haywood County.
Haywood County is situated amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains and contains parts of several major subranges of the Blue Ridge, namely the Great Smoky Mountains in the west and the Plott Balsams and Great Balsam Mountains in the south. Notable peaks in the county include Cold Mountain, at 6,030 feet (1,840 m), Mount Sterling, at 5,835 feet (1,779 m), and Richland Balsam, at 6,410 feet (1,950 m) in elevation. Mt. Guyot, the county's highest point at 6,621 feet (2,018 m), is the 4th highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. Black Balsam Knob, in the Great Balsam Mountains in the southeastern section of the county, is the highest grassy bald in the entire Appalachian range. Haywood County is believed to be the highest county (by mean elevation) east of the Mississippi River, with a mean elevation of 3,597 feet or 1,096 metres. About 40 percent of the county's land lies within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Pisgah National Forest.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||656||1.06%|
|Hispanic or Latino||2,829||4.56%|
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 62,089 people, 26,653 households, and 17,170 families residing in the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 54,033 people, 23,100 households, and 16,054 families residing in the county. The population density was 98 people per square mile (38 people/km2). There were 28,640 housing units at an average density of 52 units per square mile (20 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.85% White, 1.27% Black or African American, 0.49% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 0.71% from two or more races. 1.41% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 30.8% were of American, 12.9% English, 12.0% German, 10.4% Irish and 8.3% Scots-Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 97.1% spoke English and 1.9% Spanish as their first language.
There were 23,100 households, out of which 26.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.70% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 26.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.76.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 20.80% under the age of 18, 6.20% from 18 to 24, 26.90% from 25 to 44, 27.10% from 45 to 64, and 19.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 92.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $33,922, and the median income for a family was $40,438. Males had a median income of $30,731 versus $21,750 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,554. About 8.10% of families and 11.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.40% of those under age 18 and 10.30% of those age 65 or over.
Haywood County is governed by an elected five-member board of commissioners. Each member is popularly-elected to serve a four-year term. The board is responsible for adopting the county budget, setting the local property tax rate, making zoning decisions, and hiring the county attorney and county manager. The county manager oversees county government administration.
Haywood County is a member of the regional Southwestern Commission council of governments. It is located in the North Carolina Senate's 47th district, the Senate's 50th district, the North Carolina House of Representatives' 118th district, and North Carolina's 11th congressional district.
Haywood County contains a small portion of the Qualla Boundary, a tribal reservation for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The Haywood County Sheriff's Office provides court protection and jail management for the entire county and provides patrol and detective services for the unincorporated portions of the county. The towns of Waynesville, Canton, and Maggie Valley have municipal police departments. On October 1, 2020 the Haywood County Sheriff's Office took over all law enforcement service for the town of Clyde. They are expected to continue operations in the town until June 2025.
Fire protection and rescue services are provided by the Clyde, Cruso, North Canton, Saunook, Waynesville, Crabtree-Ironduff, Maggie Valley, Junaluska, Center Pigeon, Canton, Jonathan Creek, Fines Creek, and Lake Logan-Cecil Fire Departments.
|Historical presidential election returns|
Prior to the Civil War, Haywood County elected several Whigs to office. After the war ended in 1865, Unionists established a local branch of the Republican Party. Republicans dominated local offices until 1870, when the Conservative Party—later renamed the Democratic Party–experienced a resurgence across the state. By 1876, the county was firmly dominated by Democrats. Democrats remained dominant in the county into the early 21st century. Over the subsequent 20 years, the Republican Party's presence rapidly increased due to the increase of new residents and the defection of local Southern Democrats. In November 2022, Republicans won all contested local races in Haywood, making the county commission entirely occupied by Republicans for the first time in its history.
Pactiv Evergreen is largest employer in Haywood County, and operates a large paper mill in Canton and another facility in Waynesville. In March 2023, the company announced it would close the Canton mill by the end of June. The closure is projected to result in the loss of hundreds of jobs and $500 million in overall economic impact, and Haywood County Schools is expected to become the largest employer.
The Blue Ridge Southern Railroad operates a rail line with freight service through Haywood County.
Haywood County Schools operates 15 schools: an early college, three high schools, three middle schools, eight elementary schools. The districts has no low-performing schools and had the seventh highest combined test results among school districts in the state in 2021–22. The county also hosts Haywood Community College. According to the 2021 American Community Survey, an estimated 27.7 percent of county residents have attained a bachelor's degree or higher level of education.
Main article: Tuscola–Pisgah rivalry
Two county high schools' football teams, the Tuscola High School Mountaineers of Waynesville and Pisgah High School Black Bears of Canton, have maintained a rivalry dating back to the school teams predecessors' first game in 1922. Annual football games between the two teams are popular events for locals and sometimes attract over 10,000 spectators.
The annual ramp (Allium tricoccum) convention in Haywood County, known as the oldest in the Nation, has drawn as many as 4,000 participants a year since its inception circa 1925. It is held each May.
Folkmoot USA is an international folk festival held since 1984 in Waynesville, North Carolina and surrounding communities. During its history, the two-week event has featured around 200 groups from approximately 100 countries. The Southeast Tourism Society has named Folkmoot USA one of its top twenty events for 20 years. The North Carolina General Assembly declared Folkmoot USA to be the state's official international folk festival in 2003.
Robeson County townships are:
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