Columbus County, North Carolina

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Not to be confused with Columbus, North Carolina.
Columbus County, North Carolina
Columbus County, NC Courthouse.jpg
Map of North Carolina highlighting Columbus County
Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1808
Named for Christopher Columbus
Seat Whiteville
Largest city Whiteville
 • Total 954 sq mi (2,471 km2)
 • Land 937 sq mi (2,427 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (41 km2), 1.7%
 • (2010) 58,098
 • Density 161/sq mi (62/km²)
Congressional district 7th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Columbus County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 58,098.[1] Its county seat is Whiteville.[2]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 954 square miles (2,470 km2), of which 937 square miles (2,430 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (1.7%) is water.[3] It is the third-largest county in North Carolina by land area. There are several large lakes within the county, including Lake Tabor and Lake Waccamaw.

On of the most significant geographic features is the Green Swamp, a 15,907 acre area along highway 211 in the north eastern portion of the county. It contains several unique and endangered species, such as the venus flytrap. The area contains the Brown Marsh Swamp, and is a remnant of the giant longleaf pine forest that once stretched across the Southeast from Virginia to Texas. [4]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major highways[edit]


The county was formed in 1808 from parts of Bladen County and Brunswick County. It was named for Christopher Columbus.[5]

Waccamaw Siouan Indian Presence[edit]

The Waccamaw Siouan Indians are one of several autonomous tribes, known colloquially as "eastern Siouans", whose territories extended through Columbus County prior to European settlement in the 16th Century. During the Tuscarora War and Yamasee War, tribal numbers were greatly reduced and resulted in the people's retreat to the swamps near Lake Waccamaw.[6] Throughout the 17th Century, Waccamaw Siouans are notably absent from the historical record, only appearing towards the end of the century when the U.S. Census recorded common Waccamaw surnames among peoples of small isolated communities.[7]

In 1910, the earliest known governmental body of the Waccamaw Indians was officially created—the Council of Wide Awake Indians. The council's primary objectives were to obtain public funding for Indian schools, and to eventually obtain federal recognition. The council was successful in opening its first publicly funded school in 1933 and others soon followed; however, lack of funding from taxpayers helped to significantly fuel the council's campaign for federal recognition in 1940.[7]

The name Waccamaw Siouan was first officially used by the United States government in 1949, when a bill intended to grant the tribe federal recognition was introduced before Congress.[7] While the bill was defeated in committee the following year, changes in federal policy during the 1960s and 1970s regarding public funding and economic assistance led to the Waccamaw benefiting from government programs without federal recognition.[7]

Though the Waccamaw Siouan are not federally recognized, they have been recognized by the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs since 1971. Tribal leadership is provided and maintained by the Waccamaw Siouan Sevelopment Association (WSDA), a nonprofit group founded in 1972. The group is headed by a nine-member board of directors, elected by a secret ballot that is open to all tribal members over the age of 18; in addition, the board includes a chief, whose role is largely symbolic.[7]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 3,022
1820 3,912 29.5%
1830 4,141 5.9%
1840 3,941 −4.8%
1850 5,909 49.9%
1860 8,597 45.5%
1870 8,474 −1.4%
1880 14,439 70.4%
1890 17,856 23.7%
1900 21,274 19.1%
1910 28,020 31.7%
1920 30,124 7.5%
1930 37,720 25.2%
1940 45,663 21.1%
1950 50,621 10.9%
1960 48,973 −3.3%
1970 46,937 −4.2%
1980 51,037 8.7%
1990 49,587 −2.8%
2000 54,749 10.4%
2010 58,098 6.1%
Est. 2014 56,953 [8] −2.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790-1960[10] 1900-1990[11]
1990-2000[12] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 54,749 people, 21,308 households, and 15,043 families residing in the county. The population density was 58/sq mi (23/km²). As of 2004, there were 24,668 housing units at an average density of 26/sq mi (10/km²). The racial makeup for the county was 68.9% White, 23.1% Black or African American, 5.1% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 4.7% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. 2.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

By 2005 62.3% of the county population was White. 31.1% of the population was African-American. 3.2% of the population was Native American. According to the 2010 census, 1,025 people in Columbus County self-identify as Waccamaw Siouan.[14] 2.8% of the population was Latino. According to the 2010 census, 1,025 people

There were 21,308 households out of which 31.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.80% were married couples living together, 15.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.40% were non-families. 26.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.70% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 27.40% from 25 to 44, 24.40% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 92.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.40 males.

The 2003 median income for a household in the county was $27,659, and the median income for a family was a little more than $33,800. Males had a median income of $28,494 versus $19,867 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,415. About 17.60% of families and 20.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.00% of those under age 18 and 25.50% of those age 65 or over.


The economy of Columbus County centers on two different industries: agriculture and manufacturing. Columbus farmers produce crops such as pecans and peanuts along with soybeans, potatoes, and corn. Cattle, poultry, and catfish are other agricultural products in Columbus County. Factories in the region focus on textiles, tools, and plywood. Household products such as doors, furniture, and windows are other manufactured goods produced in Columbus.[15]

Carolina Southern stopped railroad service to the county in 2012, and efforts to restore service have proven difficult.[16] However, as of July 2014, positive developments were reported to return railroad service to the area, a move considered necessary for spurring economic development in the area.[17] Carolina Southern agreed, in July 2014, to begin the process allowing the counties of Horry County, South Carolina, Marion, South Carolina and Columbus County, NC to assume control of the area rail lines with the hopes repairing the railroad tracks and bridges and then finding a buyer to re-establish service to the area.[18] A public hearing on the matter was held on October 6, 2014.[19] During the October 6th meeting, the Columbus County Commissioners voted to support the initiative to restart rail service with a 10-year grant for the program. Some of the commissioners may not have revealed that they will benefit from the re-establishment of rail service.[20] The Horry County Council, in a vote on October 7, 2014 also voted to provide funding to reestablish railroad service to the area.[21] Although originally it was thought service could be restored as early as spring 2015,[22] however, the sale of the railroad was not completed until August, 2015 to R.J. Coleman Railroad..[23] A new target date of February 2016 was announced, as millions of dollars are expected to be spent repairing the rail lines that have been idle since 2011.[24]

Law and government[edit]

Columbus County is a member of the regional Cape Fear Council of Governments. The county is governed by a board of seven Commissioners.

Columbus County Animal Shelter[edit]

Columbus County maintains an animal shelter at 288 Legion Drive in Whiteville, NC. It has been a target both from government regulators as well as activist [25] with problems present for "years and years and years" [26] In the past, the shelter has been fined [27] as well as receiving warning from state regulators for various issues. [28]

In September 2015, a new manager was hired to combat these issues, [29] and he announced an ambitious plan to improve the shelter. In late October 2015, WECT ran a story showing that things at the shelter were indeed improving, highlighting a large donation from Austria that was made possible by coordination on Facebook. The story also enumerated more changes that the new director has made to improve conditions. [30] As of November 2015, the shelter maintains a Facebook page showing the animals available for adoption. [31]



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




  • Bogue
  • Bolton
  • Bug Hill
  • Cerro Gordo
  • Chadbourn
  • Fair Bluff
  • Lees
  • Ransom
  • South Williams
  • Tatums
  • Waccamaw
  • Welch Creek
  • Western Prong
  • Williams
  • Whiteville

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated areas[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 88. 
  6. ^ William S. Powell, Encyclopedia of North Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 1170.
  7. ^ a b c d e Powell, Encyclopedia of North Carolina, 1170.
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  11. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  13. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  14. ^ Commission on Indian Affairs, North Carolina Department of Administration. (2010). "Total Population by Tribe by County in North Carolina."
  15. ^
  16. ^ Jones, Steve. "STB filing: Railroad revenue not important in reaching a decision | Business". Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  17. ^ "Tabor-Loris Tribune – July 16, 2014". Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  18. ^ "Local news from The Sun News in Myrtle Beach SC |". Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  19. ^ "Tabor-Loris Tribune – September 17, 2014". Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  20. ^ Justin Smith (2014-10-07). "Commissioner could benefit from railroad receiving county incent – WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC". Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  21. ^ "CONWAY: Horry County Council approves $1.8 m commitment to help purchase Carolina Southern Railroad | Local News |". Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  22. ^ "Carolina Southern could roll again by next spring | Business |". Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  23. ^
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  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°16′N 78°40′W / 34.26°N 78.67°W / 34.26; -78.67