Polk County, North Carolina
|Polk County, North Carolina|
Location in the state of North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
|Named for||Colonel William Polk|
239 sq mi (619 km²)
238 sq mi (616 km²)
1 sq mi (3 km²), 0.31%
86/sq mi (33/km²)
Law and government 
Polk County is a member of the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission regional council of governments. Sheila Whitmire is the current (as of 2012) Registrar of Deeds, and Eric McIntyre serves as the current mayor.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 239 square miles (620 km2), of which, 238 square miles (620 km2) of it is land and 1 square mile (2.6 km2) of it is water. The total area is 0.31% water.
The county's largest body of water is Lake Adger, located about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Columbus.
The elevation in the county ranges from just under 800 feet (240 m) near the confluence of the Green River and Broad River to over 3,200 feet (980 m) on Tryon Peak and Wildcat Spur, the highest peak in the county. Polk County is divided into two physiographic regions; the Blue Ridge Mountains in the western third of the county and Piedmont for the eastern two-thirds. Since it is in a transition zone between the two regions, Polk County is often referred to as being in the foothills.
The county is divided into six townships: Columbus, Cooper's Gap, Green Creek, Saluda, Tryon, and White Oak.
Adjacent counties 
- Rutherford County, North Carolina - north and east
- Spartanburg County, South Carolina - south-southeast
- Greenville County, South Carolina - south-southwest
- Henderson County, North Carolina - west
|Henderson County||Rutherford County|
|Greenville County, South Carolina||Spartanburg County, South Carolina|
Major Highways 
The interchange for I-26 and the U.S. 74 freeway is located in Columbus. Interstate 26 provides Polk County with easy access to the cities of Johnson City, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina to the north, and Spartanburg, South Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; and the port of Charleston, South Carolina to the southeast. Interstate 26 junctions with the major Interstates of I-85 and I-40 are within a half-hour and forty minutes, respectively. East on U.S. 74 goes to Charlotte, North Carolina, and eventually to the port of Wilmington, North Carolina. Proximity to these highways places Polk County in a strategic position for potential business development in the future.
Polk County is also served by an additional non-freeway U.S. Highway: U.S. Route 176. This was the primary highway linking Saluda and Tryon to Hendersonville, North Carolina and Spartanburg, S.C. prior to the delayed completion of I-26 in 1976. Two North Carolina routes, N.C. 108 and N.C. 9, traverse the county as well. N.C. 108 begins in Rutherfordton, North Carolina and travels west through Columbus and ends at U.S. 176 in Tryon. Oriented north-to-south, N.C. 9 connects Black Mountain, North Carolina and Lake Lure, North Carolina to Spartanburg and points southeast via Polk County. N.C. 108 and N.C. 9 intersect at the unincorporated town of Mill Spring.
Polk County and Saluda are infamous among railroad enthusiasts for the Saluda Grade, the steepest standard-gauge mainline railway grade in the United States. Norfolk Southern suspended freight traffic indefinitely along this route in December 2001. The track remains in place, but are cut near Flat Rock, North Carolina and Landrum, South Carolina.
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,324 people, 7,908 households, and 5,337 families residing in the county. The population density was 77 people per square mile (30/km²). There were 9,192 housing units at an average density of 39 per square mile (15/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.26% White, 5.89% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. 3.01% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
- English - 17%
- Irish - 13%
- German - 13%
- Scotch-Irish - 7%
- African - 5.89%
- Scottish - 4%
- Italian - 3%
There were 7,908 households out of which 23.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.30% were married couples living together, 7.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.50% were non-families. 28.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.78.
In the county the population was spread out with 20.10% under the age of 18, 5.80% from 18 to 24, 24.20% from 25 to 44, 26.30% from 45 to 64, and 23.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 90.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $36,259, and the median income for a family was $45,096. Males had a median income of $29,375 versus $23,070 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,804. 10.10% of the population and 6.40% of families were below the poverty line. 11.70% of those under the age of 18 and 8.80% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Cities and towns 
See also 
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Saluda Grade - North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
- "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Polk County government official website
- NCGenWeb Polk County - free genealogy resources for the county
- BlueRidgeNow.com - The Times-News Online
- Polk County Sheriff's Department Webpage