Graham County, North Carolina

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Graham County
County of Graham
Graham County Courthouse in Robbinsville
Graham County Courthouse in Robbinsville
Official seal of Graham County
Official logo of Graham County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Graham 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°21′N 83°50′W / 35.35°N 83.83°W / 35.35; -83.83
Country United States
State North Carolina
Founded1872
Named forWilliam A. Graham
SeatRobbinsville
Largest townRobbinsville
Area
 • Total302 sq mi (780 km2)
 • Land292 sq mi (760 km2)
 • Water9.6 sq mi (25 km2)  3.2%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2021)
8,043
 • Density27.5/sq mi (10.6/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district11th
Websitewww.grahamcounty.org

Graham County (locally /ˈɡrˌhæm/)[1] is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 8,030,[2] making it the third-least populous county in North Carolina. Its county seat is Robbinsville.[3]

History[edit]

The county was formed January 30, 1872, from the northeastern part of Cherokee County. It was named for William A. Graham,[4] United States Senator from North Carolina (1840–1843) and Governor of North Carolina (1845–1849).

Geography[edit]

November sunrise on Lake Santeetlah, Graham County, North Carolina

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 302 square miles (780 km2), of which 292 square miles (760 km2) is land and 9.6 square miles (25 km2) (3.2%) is water.[5] The terrain of the county is mountainous,[6] with elevations ranging from 1,177 feet (359 m) to 5,560 feet (1,690 m). Two-thirds of the county is the Nantahala National Forest. The soil of the valleys is fertile.[6]

Fontana Lake, an impoundment of the Little Tennessee River, forms most of the northern border of the county, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side of the lake. Fontana Lake is formed by Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern U.S. The remainder of the northern boundary of Graham County is almost completely formed by another impoundment of the Little Tennessee River, downstream from Fontana Dam, created by Cheoah Dam. Fontana Dam and Cheoah Dam are both operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Appalachian Trail winds through Graham County. Part of the trail is located on top of Fontana Dam. The Cheoah River is noted for its Class IV and Class V whitewater rapids. The river is used for whitewater rafting about 17 days per year, based on a water-release schedule from Santeetlah Dam. Seventy-five percent of Lake Santeetlah shoreline borders national forest.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a rare example of an old growth cove hardwood forest, is located in northwestern Graham County. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness area.

The eastern terminus of the Cherohala Skyway is located in northwestern Graham County. The 43-mile (69 km) Cherohala Skyway connects Graham County with Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

The Cherokee name for the area, Nantahala, is translated as "land of the noon-day sun" because 90% of the land is slopes of 30 degrees or greater, suggesting that in the valleys one sees the sun only in the middle of the day.[7]

Indian reservation[edit]

Parts of the Qualla Boundary, also known as the Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation, are located in Graham County. These sections of the Qualla Boundary are non-contiguous from the primary part of the Qualla Boundary located in Swain, Jackson, Cherokee and Haywood counties. The Cherokees who live in Graham County form the Snowbird Cherokee community.

National protected area[edit]

State and local protected area[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major water-bodies[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18802,335
18903,31341.9%
19004,34331.1%
19104,7499.3%
19204,8722.6%
19305,84119.9%
19406,4189.9%
19506,8867.3%
19606,432−6.6%
19706,5622.0%
19807,21710.0%
19907,196−0.3%
20007,99311.1%
20108,86110.9%
20208,030−9.4%
2021 (est.)8,043[8]0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790-1960[10] 1900-1990[11]
1990-2000[12] 2010-2013[13]
2020[14]

2020 census[edit]

Graham County racial composition[15]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 6,885 85.74%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 46 0.57%
Native American 570 7.1%
Asian 20 0.25%
Pacific Islander 4 0.05%
Other/Mixed 286 3.56%
Hispanic or Latino 219 2.73%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 8,030 people, 3,393 households, and 2,178 families residing in the county.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 7,993 people, 3,354 households, and 2,411 families residing in the county. The population density was 27 people per square mile (11/km2). There were 5,084 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (7/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.91% White, 0.19% Black or African American, 6.84% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. 0.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 27.6% were of American, 15.1% Irish, 12.7% English, 10.6% German and 5.1% Scots-Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 97.7% spoke English and 1.3% Cherokee as their first language.

There were 3,354 households, out of which 27.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.80% were married couples living together, 8.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.10% were non-families. 26.00% 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 2.35 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.00% under the age of 18, 7.30% from 18 to 24, 25.20% from 25 to 44, 27.50% from 45 to 64, and 18.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 95.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,645, and the median income for a family was $32,750. Males had a median income of $24,207 versus $18,668 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,237. About 14.40% of families and 19.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.30% of those under age 18 and 20.40% of those age 65 or over.


Law, government, public safety[edit]

Government[edit]

Graham County is governed by an elected five member Board of Commissioners. The county is a member of the regional Southwestern Commission council of governments. It is the only dry county (in which alcohol sales are generally forbidden with only a few exceptions) in North Carolina.[17]

United States presidential election results for Graham County, North Carolina[18]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 3,710 79.53% 905 19.40% 50 1.07%
2016 3,283 78.77% 768 18.43% 117 2.81%
2012 2,750 69.67% 1,119 28.35% 78 1.98%
2008 2,824 67.71% 1,265 30.33% 82 1.97%
2004 2,693 67.54% 1,272 31.90% 22 0.55%
2000 2,304 68.55% 1,006 29.93% 51 1.52%
1996 1,801 54.76% 1,210 36.79% 278 8.45%
1992 1,919 49.51% 1,551 40.02% 406 10.47%
1988 2,091 61.16% 1,313 38.40% 15 0.44%
1984 2,514 62.63% 1,494 37.22% 6 0.15%
1980 1,961 54.25% 1,608 44.48% 46 1.27%
1976 1,621 47.34% 1,791 52.31% 12 0.35%
1972 1,699 61.05% 1,057 37.98% 27 0.97%
1968 1,570 52.44% 1,061 35.44% 363 12.12%
1964 1,398 44.59% 1,737 55.41% 0 0.00%
1960 1,721 56.32% 1,335 43.68% 0 0.00%
1956 1,762 54.25% 1,486 45.75% 0 0.00%
1952 1,380 46.46% 1,590 53.54% 0 0.00%
1948 1,115 41.07% 1,527 56.24% 73 2.69%
1944 1,356 41.79% 1,889 58.21% 0 0.00%
1940 1,089 43.68% 1,404 56.32% 0 0.00%
1936 1,325 47.36% 1,473 52.64% 0 0.00%
1932 1,183 46.25% 1,364 53.32% 11 0.43%
1928 1,260 56.68% 963 43.32% 0 0.00%
1924 907 51.56% 841 47.81% 11 0.63%
1920 915 58.69% 644 41.31% 0 0.00%
1916 460 49.15% 476 50.85% 0 0.00%
1912 261 29.00% 416 46.22% 223 24.78%


Public safety[edit]

The Graham County Sheriff's Office protects the court and all county owned facilities, operates the jail, and provides patrol and detective services.[19] Graham County Emergency Medical Services provide full-time paramedic level care to all of Graham County, and to a small portion of northwest Swain County. As there are no hospitals in Graham County, all patients are transported out of county for emergency care.

Communities[edit]

Map of Graham County, North Carolina With municipal and township labels

Towns[edit]

Townships[edit]

  • Cheoah
  • Fontana Dam
  • Stecoah
  • Yellow Creek

Other communities[edit]

Other communities in Graham County include Almond, Atoah, Fontana Heights, Fontana Village, Snowbird, Stecoah Valley, Sweetwater, Tapoco (named for the Tallassee Power Company[21]), and Tuskegee. Tallulah, a community just south of Robbinsville, may have been named for a mythological Cherokee Indian. Many smaller communities in Graham County are named for bodies of water, notable landscape features, or early settlers. These include Meadow Branch, Yellow Creek, and Sawyers Creek.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Portions of the movie Nell (1994), starring Jodie Foster, were filmed near Robbinsville.
  • Portions of the movie The Fugitive (1993), starring Harrison Ford, were filmed at Cheoah Dam.
  • The historic 1927 silent film Stark Love was filmed in Graham County and featured local residents as actors.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rick Aschmann (May 2, 2018). "North American English Dialects, Based on Pronunciation Patterns". Aschmann.net. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Graham County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 140.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Graham. I. An extreme W. county of North Carolina" . The American Cyclopædia.
  7. ^ Historical Marker in Robbinsville, the county seat
  8. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Graham County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  11. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  13. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  14. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Graham County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  15. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  17. ^ "Legal Sales by County: North Carolina ABC Commission". Ncabc.com. Archived from the original on April 17, 2010. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  18. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  19. ^ "Sheriff – Graham County North Carolina".
  20. ^ "USPS.com - ZIP Code Lookup". Tools.usps.com. March 28, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  21. ^ Graham County website.

Coordinates: 35°21′N 83°50′W / 35.35°N 83.83°W / 35.35; -83.83