Unicoi County, Tennessee

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Unicoi County
Unicoi County Courthouse in Erwin
Unicoi County Courthouse in Erwin
Map of Tennessee highlighting Unicoi County
Location within the U.S. state of Tennessee
Map of the United States highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 36°06′N 82°26′W / 36.1°N 82.43°W / 36.1; -82.43
Country United States
State Tennessee
FoundedMarch 23, 1875
Named forCherokee word for "fog-draped" or "hazy"[1]
SeatErwin
Largest townErwin
Area
 • Total186 sq mi (480 km2)
 • Land186 sq mi (480 km2)
 • Water0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)  0.2%%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total17,928 Decrease
 • Density98/sq mi (38/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district1st
Websitewww.unicoicountytn.gov

Unicoi County (/ˈjnɪˌkɔɪ/) is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,313.[2] Its county seat is Erwin.[3] Unicoi is a Cherokee word meaning "white," "hazy," "fog-like," or "fog draped," and refers to the mist often seen in the foothills and mountains of this far northeast county.[1] Unicoi County is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–KingsportBristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area, commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region.

History[edit]

This area was long inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the historic Cherokee who encountered European and English traders and settlers. The mountainous terrain made it less attractive to subsistence farmers.

Unicoi County was created in 1875 from portions of Washington and Carter counties. Its first European-American settlers had arrived more than century earlier but the population had been small.[1] The county remained predominantly agrarian until the railroads were constructed in the area in the 1880s.[1]

During the 1910s, the Clinchfield Railroad established a pottery in Erwin, which eventually incorporated under the name, "Southern Potteries." This company produced a popular brand of dishware, commonly called Blue Ridge China, which featured hand-painted underglaze designs. While the company folded in the 1950s, Blue Ridge dishes remain popular with antique collectors.[1]

In 1916, a circus elephant, Mary, was hanged in Erwin for killing her trainer. Hanging was chosen as the method of execution because the animal survived being shot. She was hanged by a railroad car crane.[1] The hanging was the subject of a book, The Day They Hung the Elephant (1992), by Charles Edwin Price.

Pronunciation[edit]

Hear it spoken (Voice of Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch, 2010)

Geography[edit]

The Appalachian Trail approaching the summit of Big Bald

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 186 square miles (480 km2), of which 186 square miles (480 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (0.2%) is water.[4] It is the fifth-smallest county in Tennessee by total area. The Nolichucky River, which enters Unicoi County from North Carolina, is the county's primary drainage.

Unicoi County is situated entirely within the Blue Ridge Mountains,[5] specifically the Bald Mountains (south of the Nolichucky) and the Unaka Range (north of the Nolichucky). Big Bald, which at 5,516 feet (1,681 m) is the highest mountain in the Balds, is also Unicoi County's high point.[6] Traversed by the Appalachian Trail, the mountain is topped by a grassy bald, allowing a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains.

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected areas[edit]

State protected areas[edit]

Major Highways[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18803,645
18904,61926.7%
19005,85126.7%
19107,20123.1%
192010,12040.5%
193012,67825.3%
194014,12811.4%
195015,88612.4%
196015,082−5.1%
197015,2541.1%
198016,3627.3%
199016,5491.1%
200017,6676.8%
201018,3133.7%
202017,928−2.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790-1960[8] 1900-1990[9]
1990-2000[10] 2010-2014[2]
Age pyramid Unicoi County[11]

2020 census[edit]

Unicoi County racial composition[12]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 16,175 90.22%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 44 0.25%
Native American 38 0.21%
Asian 37 0.21%
Other/Mixed 527 2.94%
Hispanic or Latino 1,107 6.17%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 17,928 people, 7,658 households, and 4,953 families residing in the county.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 17,667 people, 7,516 households, and 5,223 families residing in the county. The population density was 95 people per square mile (37/km2). There were 8,214 housing units at an average density of 44 per square mile (17/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.96% White, 0.07% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.95% from other races, and 0.66% from two or more races. 1.94% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,516 households, out of which 26.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.40% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 27.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.80.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 20.50% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 27.50% from 25 to 44, 26.50% from 45 to 64, and 18.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,863, and the median income for a family was $36,871. Males had a median income of $30,206 versus $20,379 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,612. About 8.70% of families and 13.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.70% of those under age 18 and 13.50% of those age 65 or over.

Communities[edit]

Towns[edit]

Census-designated place[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Politics[edit]

Voters of Unicoi County, like most of eastern Tennessee, have been strongly affiliated with the Republican Party since before the Civil War, when it was a Unionist enclave. Since its founding, it has supported the Republican presidential candidate in all but one election (1912, when it backed Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party campaign).

At the state level, Unicoi County has historically been slightly more receptive to Democratic candidates, generally when they win by landslides. It often supported Democratic candidates for governor in the Solid South era, when white conservatives largely were affiliated as Democrats. More recently, it backed Democrat Ned McWherter in the 1986 and 1990 gubernatorial elections and Phil Bredesen in 2006, when he won every county in the state.

United States presidential election results for Unicoi County, Tennessee[14]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 6,599 79.44% 1,615 19.44% 93 1.12%
2016 5,671 78.82% 1,262 17.54% 262 3.64%
2012 5,032 71.01% 1,913 27.00% 141 1.99%
2008 5,011 69.38% 2,107 29.17% 105 1.45%
2004 5,030 67.40% 2,374 31.81% 59 0.79%
2000 3,780 58.80% 2,566 39.91% 83 1.29%
1996 3,122 54.25% 2,131 37.03% 502 8.72%
1992 3,344 51.87% 2,375 36.84% 728 11.29%
1988 3,664 66.79% 1,794 32.70% 28 0.51%
1984 4,249 71.07% 1,696 28.37% 34 0.57%
1980 3,828 65.50% 1,880 32.17% 136 2.33%
1976 3,211 55.53% 2,526 43.69% 45 0.78%
1972 3,877 81.35% 822 17.25% 67 1.41%
1968 3,327 65.49% 910 17.91% 843 16.59%
1964 2,731 57.73% 2,000 42.27% 0 0.00%
1960 4,004 75.04% 1,322 24.78% 10 0.19%
1956 3,978 77.71% 1,111 21.70% 30 0.59%
1952 3,453 74.81% 1,163 25.19% 0 0.00%
1948 1,927 67.35% 844 29.50% 90 3.15%
1944 1,992 71.89% 779 28.11% 0 0.00%
1940 1,863 64.67% 985 34.19% 33 1.15%
1936 1,850 67.13% 879 31.89% 27 0.98%
1932 1,716 66.87% 850 33.13% 0 0.00%
1928 2,043 84.25% 375 15.46% 7 0.29%
1924 1,381 72.68% 381 20.05% 138 7.26%
1920 2,584 82.42% 547 17.45% 4 0.13%
1916 961 80.96% 226 19.04% 0 0.00%
1912 280 22.84% 170 13.87% 776 63.30%


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Hilda Britt Padgett, "Unicoi County," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved: 19 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  5. ^ Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, et al., "Ambient Air Monitoring Plan," Environmental Protection Agency website, 1 July 2010. Accessed: 18 March 2015.
  6. ^ Tom Dunigan, Tennessee County High Points, Tennessee Landforms. Retrieved: 7 November 2013.
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  9. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  11. ^ Based on 2000 census data
  12. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  14. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 12, 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°06′N 82°26′W / 36.10°N 82.43°W / 36.10; -82.43