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Spruce Pine, North Carolina

Coordinates: 35°54′38″N 82°04′23″W / 35.91056°N 82.07306°W / 35.91056; -82.07306
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Spruce Pine, North Carolina
Locust (Lower) Street
Locust (Lower) Street
Official seal of Spruce Pine, North Carolina
Location in North Carolina
Location in North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°54′38″N 82°04′23″W / 35.91056°N 82.07306°W / 35.91056; -82.07306
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
Named forThe spruce pine[1]
 • MayorPhillip Hise
 • Total4.68 sq mi (12.13 km2)
 • Land4.68 sq mi (12.13 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation2,612 ft (796 m)
 • Total2,194
 • Density468.60/sq mi (180.93/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code828
FIPS code37-64260[4]
GNIS feature ID2407391[3]

Spruce Pine is the largest town in Mitchell County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 2,175 at the 2010 census.


Spruce Pine was founded in 1907 when the Clinchfield Railroad made its way up the North Toe River from Erwin, Tennessee. The town was originally centered around a tavern operated by Isaac English, located on an old roadway that ran from Cranberry, North Carolina, down to Marion, NC. The Old English Inn still stands at its original location near the center of town. In 1923, after an African American escaped convict allegedly raped a local white resident, a large armed white mob rounded up scores of Black men who were laboring on a road construction project and forced them to leave town on boxcars. North Carolina Governor Cameron Morrison deployed National Guard troops to Spruce Pine so that the workers could return and complete the road.[5]

The railroad, combined with a rapidly expanding mining industry (the town is the namesake of the famous Spruce Pine Mining District) made Spruce Pine the largest town in the Toe River Valley, as it became the hub of commerce and culture for the area. Spruce Pine was the home of The Feldspar Company and Spruce Pine Mica, and other major mining interests had operations in and around the town.

Railroad tracks and train station in Spruce Pine.

With the decline in use of railroads to ship goods, along with increasing automation in the mining industry, the town has recently seen its fortunes dwindle and has undertaken a major effort to reinvent itself. Tourism has become a major economic force in the region, and the town's proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, combined with its location near the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, has helped make Spruce Pine a travel destination for many. The town also boasts the moniker of "The Mineral City of the World".

On August 4, 2007, the downtown area of Spruce Pine was threatened when an arsonist set fire to several buildings downtown. The fires, which brought firemen from four counties around Spruce Pine, severely damaged the building housing Cheapskates Music on Lower Street, and caused some tense moments when it seemed that the fires might spread out of control and consume the downtown area.

The Downtown Spruce Pine Historic District and Gunter Building are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6] Spruce Pine is the exclusive supplier of sand to Augusta National Golf Club.


Abandoned Bon Ami mine

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.9 square miles (10 km2), all land. The town limits are approximately three miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, 50 miles northeast of Asheville and 40 miles southwest of Boone.


Climate data for SPRUCE PINE 2 NE, NC, 1991-2020 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 44.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 34.0
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 23.5
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.54
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Source: NOAA[7][8]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
Community park in Spruce Pine.

2020 census[edit]

Spruce Pine racial composition[10]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 1,833 83.55%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 16 0.73%
Native American 9 0.41%
Asian 10 0.46%
Other/Mixed 88 4.01%
Hispanic or Latino 238 10.85%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 2,194 people, 936 households, and 535 families residing in the town.

2000 census[edit]

According to the census[4] of 2000, there were 2,030 people, 888 households, and 575 families residing in the town. The population density was 522.0 people per square mile (201.5 people/km2). There were 968 housing units at an average density of 248.9 per square mile (96.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.35% White, 0.39% African American, 0.54% Native American, 0.05% Asian, 2.27% from other races, and 0.39% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.79% of the population.

There were 888 households, out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.8% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.2% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 23.3% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 19.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $24,766, and the median income for a family was $33,902. Males had a median income of $22,324 versus $22,375 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,440. About 12.4% of families and 17.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.5% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.

Landmarks and facilities[edit]

In 1955, Blue Ridge Community Hospital opened in Spruce Pine. It eventually was renamed Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, and was absorbed by Mission Health System. It serves Mitchell and Yancey Counties, and upper McDowell and lower Avery Counties.[11]

East Carolina University Dental School announced a facility would open in 2014 on the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital campus to serve Western North Carolina residents in the Mayland area (Mitchell, Avery and Yancey Counties). This facility is one of 5 facilities proposed throughout the state of North Carolina.

Spruce Pine is home to five schools: Greenlee Primary (K-2), Deyton Elementary (3-5), Harris Middle (6-8), Tri- County Christian School and the Spruce Pine Montessori School (18 months - 6th grade). Secondary education for Spruce Pine students is at Mitchell High School, located in the Ledger community of Mitchell County.

Mayland Community College also calls Spruce Pine home, just outside the city limits to the east on the Avery County line. Founded by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly in 1971, Mayland hosts some 35 curriculum programs and provides vocational and technical training, along with college transfer opportunities to residents of the region.

In 1998, the medium-security men's state prisons Mountain View Correctional Institution and Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution opened at the Avery-Mitchell County line.[12][13]


Entrance to Historic Downtown Spruce Pine.

Spruce Pine is home to The Mitchell News-Journal, a weekly newspaper printed by Community Newspapers, Inc. and WTOE radio, at 1470 kHz on the AM dial and 101.1 FM. The radio station operates 24 hours a day and is an ABC Radio affiliate. It is owned by Mountain Valley Media, based in Burnsville, NC.


Beginning in 2014, The North Carolina Department of Transportation began widening U.S. Route 19E, which is the major corridor linking the towns of Spruce Pine and Burnsville to Interstate 26. The widened highway has transformed a two-lane highway to a divided four-lane featuring grassy medians and turn lanes. The widening project was completed in 2020.

Notable people[edit]

  • Gaylord Perry – Professional Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, was a resident of Spruce Pine[14]
  • Bill Szymczyk – American music producer & technical engineer. Bill has produced such acts as B.B. King, Eagles, Joe Walsh, James Gang & Elvin Bishop just to name a few. He now lives in Little Switzerland, NC.
  • Roy Williams – UNC basketball coach, raised a little in Spruce Pine but grew up mainly in Asheville
  • Gerri Willis – native of Spruce Pine, Fox Business Network Anchor and Reporter
  • Indigo De Souza – raised in Spruce Pine, indie-rock musician


  1. ^ a b "North Carolina Gazetteer". Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  2. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  3. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Spruce Pine, North Carolina
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ Elliot Jaspin, Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America (New York: Basic Books, 2008), pp. 201-218.
  6. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. ^ "Summary of Monthly Normals 1991-2020". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
  11. ^ "Mountain Xpress". Mountain Xpress. June 27, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  12. ^ Prisons opening
  13. ^ "NC DPS: Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution".
  14. ^ Gaylord Perry (1938 - ) - North Carolina History Project Retrieved July 23, 2018.

External links[edit]