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Warren County, North Carolina

Coordinates: 36°24′N 78°06′W / 36.40°N 78.10°W / 36.40; -78.10
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Warren County
Warren County Courthouse in Warrenton
Warren County Courthouse in Warrenton
Flag of Warren County
Official seal of Warren County
Official logo of Warren County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Warren 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: 36°24′N 78°06′W / 36.40°N 78.10°W / 36.40; -78.10
Country United States
State North Carolina
Named forJoseph Warren
Largest communityWarrenton
 • Total444.30 sq mi (1,150.7 km2)
 • Land429.39 sq mi (1,112.1 km2)
 • Water14.91 sq mi (38.6 km2)  3.36%
 • Total18,642
 • Estimate 
 • Density43.42/sq mi (16.76/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district1st

Warren County is a county located in the northeastern Piedmont region of the U.S. state of North Carolina, on the northern border with Virginia, made famous for a landfill and birthplace of the environmental justice movement. As of the 2020 census, its population was 18,642.[1] Its county seat is Warrenton.[2] It was a center of tobacco and cotton plantations, education, and later textile mills.



The county was established in 1779 from the northern half of Bute County. It was named for Joseph Warren of Massachusetts, a physician and general in the American Revolutionary War who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.[3] The county seat was designated at Warrenton later that year. In 1786, part of Granville County was moved to Warren.[4] Developed as a tobacco and cotton farming area, Warrenton became a center of commerce and was one of the wealthiest towns in the state from 1840 to 1860. Many planters built fine homes there.[5] Along with its slave population, Warren had one of the largest free black populations in antebellum North Carolina.[6]

The county's economy declined after the American Civil War,[6] though its large black population briefly exercised significant political influence during the Reconstruction era. Warren's economy, like those of its neighboring counties in northeastern North Carolina, continued to struggle[3] until it gained some manufacturing businesses in the 20th century.[6] In 1881, parts of Warren County, Franklin County and Granville County were combined to form Vance County.[4]

The 1970s recession in the United States severely impacted Warren County. By 1980, it was one of the poorest counties in the state, with unemployment peaking in 1982 at 13.3 percent. The county pushed for industrial development to ameliorate struggles in the agricultural sector without much success.[7]

From 1990 to 2016, manufacturing employment rates declined by about two-thirds.[8] Since the late 20th century, county residents have worked to attract other industrial and business development. Soul City, a "planned community" development, was funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It has not been successful in attracting business and industry, and has not developed as much housing as intended.[9]

PCB issue


In 1978, a transformer manufacturer contracted a trucking company to illegally dump polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) alongside roads in North Carolina. The state of North Carolina assumed responsibility for cleaning up the pollution, and in December 1978, the state government purchased land in the Warren County community of Afton to establish a landfill to dispose of the chemical waste. Local residents began organizing to protest the planned disposal site, arguing better disposal options existed and that a hazardous waste facility would undercut the county's ability to attracted new industry. National civil rights organizations and politicians became involved, and about 500 protestors were arrested in September 1982 for attempting to obstruct the construction of the disposal site. While the demonstrations did not halt the creation of the landfill, the site was eventually detoxified, and a significant amount of historiographic literature attributes the start of the modern environmental justice movement to the protests.[10][11]


Interactive map of Warren County
Entering Warren County from Virginia

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 444.30 square miles (1,150.7 km2), of which 429.39 square miles (1,112.1 km2) is land and 14.91 square miles (38.6 km2) (3.36%) is water.[12] It is bordered by the North Carolina counties of Franklin, Halifax, Nash, Northampton, and Vance, and the Virginia counties of Brunswick and Mecklenburg.[13] It sits in the northeastern section of the state's Piedmont region and lies within the Roanoke and Tar-Pamlico river basins.[3]

State and local protected areas


Major water bodies


Major highways



Historical population
2023 (est.)18,836[1]1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]
1790–1960[18] 1900–1990[19]
1990–2000[20] 2010[21] 2020[1]

Haliwa-Saponi Native Americans reside primarily in the southeastern portions of the county.[22][23]

2020 census

Warren County, North Carolina – Racial and ethnic composition
Note: the U.S. census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 2010[24] Pop 2020[25] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 7,971 7,209 38.01% 38.67%
Black or African American alone (NH) 10,911 9,049 52.03% 48.54%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 1,026 953 4.89% 5.11%
Asian alone (NH) 49 62 0.23% 0.33%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 3 4 0.01% 0.02%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 21 65 0.10% 0.35%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 299 561 1.43% 3.01%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 692 739 3.30% 3.96%
Total 20,972 18,642 100.00% 100.00%

As of the 2020 census, there were 18,642 people, 7,786 households, and 4,589 families residing in the county.

The county's population declined between the 2010 and 2020 censuses.[26]

2010 census


At the 2010 census,, there were 20,972 people living in the county. 52.3% were Black or African American, 38.8% White, 5.0% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 2.0% of some other race and 1.6% of two or more races. 3.3% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

2000 census


At the 2000 census,[27] there were 19,972 people, 7,708 households, and 5,449 families living in the county. The population density was 47 people per square mile (18 people/km2). There were 10,548 housing units at an average density of 25 units per square mile (9.7 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 54.49% Black or African American, 38.90% White, 4.79% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.79% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. 1.59% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,708 households, out of which 28.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.20% were married couples living together, 17.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.30% were non-families. 26.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.50% under the age of 18, 8.00% from 18 to 24, 26.30% from 25 to 44, 24.80% from 45 to 64, and 17.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 96.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,351, and the median income for a family was $33,602. Males had a median income of $26,928 versus $20,787 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,716. About 15.70% of families and 19.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.90% of those under age 18 and 20.80% of those age 65 or over.

Government and politics


Warren County has a council-manager government, governed by a five-member board of commissioners. County commissioners are elected at-large to staggered four-year terms and represent one of five single-member districts. The commission hires a county manager to serve as the chief administrative officer for county government and who is responsible for executing the commission's policies.[29]

Warren County is a member of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments.[30] It is located entirely in the North Carolina Senate's 3rd district, the North Carolina House of Representatives' 27th district,[31] and North Carolina's 1st congressional district.[3] Warren County lies within the bounds of North Carolina's 11th Prosecutorial District, the 9th Superior Court District, and the 9th District Court District.[32]



In recent years, Warren County has struggled with poverty and low wages.[6][33] Glen Raven, a textile company, is a major manufacturing employer in the county.[33]



Education in the area is provided by Warren County Public Schools.[34] Vance-Granville Community College maintains a satellite campus in the county.[35] According to the 2021 American Community Survey, an estimated 15.2 percent of county residents have attained a bachelor's degree or higher level of education.[13]


Map of Warren County with municipal and township labels

Incorporated communities




Warren County townships are:[37]

  • Fishing Creek
  • Fork
  • Hawtree
  • Judkins
  • Nutbush
  • River
  • Roanoke
  • Sandy Creek
  • Shocco
  • Sixpound
  • Smith Creek
  • Warrenton

Unincorporated communities

  • Afton
  • Arcola
  • Axtell
  • Church Hill
  • Creek
  • Drewry
  • Elams
  • Elberon
  • Embro
  • Enterprise
  • Five Forks
  • Grove Hill
  • Inez
  • Liberia
  • Lickskillet
  • Manson
  • Marmaduke
  • Oakville
  • Odell
  • Oine
  • Old Bethlehem
  • Parktown
  • Paschall
  • Ridgeway
  • Rose Hill
  • Snow Hill
  • Soul City
  • Vaughan
  • Vicksboro
  • Warren Plains
  • Wise

Notable people


See also



  1. ^ a b c "QuickFacts: Warren County, North Carolina". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 22, 2024.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Bangma, Peter (2006). "Warren County". NCPedia. North Carolina Government & Heritage Library. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Corbitt 2000, p. 214.
  5. ^ Wellman, Manly Wade (1959). The County of Warren, North Carolina, 1586-1917. The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9781469617077 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c d Chemtob, Danielle (December 27, 2018). "This NC county was once one of the state's wealthiest. Now it's fighting to survive". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on December 28, 2018.
  7. ^ McGurty 2009, p. 66.
  8. ^ Mims, Bryan (April 29, 2019). "Warrenton awash with history and possibilities". Business North Carolina. Retrieved November 17, 2022.
  9. ^ Healy, Thomas (February 16, 2021). "The 1970s Black Utopian City That Became a Modern Ghost Town". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  10. ^ Wegner, Ansley (2012). "PCB Protests". NCPedia. North Carolina Government & Heritage Library. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  11. ^ McGurty, Eileen Maura. "Warren County, NC, and the emergence of the environmental justice movement: Unlikely coalitions and shared meanings in local collective action." Society & Natural Resources 13.4 (2000): 373-387. DOI:10.1080/089419200279027
  12. ^ "2020 County Gazetteer Files – North Carolina". United States Census Bureau. August 23, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  13. ^ a b "Warren County, North Carolina". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  14. ^ a b "NCWRC Game Lands". www.ncpaws.org. Retrieved March 30, 2023.
  15. ^ "Nutbush Creek in Vance County NC". northcarolina.hometownlocator.com. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  16. ^ a b c d "Accessibility : Local Transportation". Warren County, North Carolina. Government of Warren County, North Carolina. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  17. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  18. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  19. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  20. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  21. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  22. ^ Wetmore, Ruth Y. (2006). "Haliwa Indians and Haliwa-Saponi Tribe". NCPedia. North Carolina Government & Heritage Library. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  23. ^ Weldon, Luci (April 19, 2023). "Thousands celebrate return of Haliwa-Saponi Powwow". The Warren Record. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  24. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Warren County, North Carolina". United States Census Bureau.
  25. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Warren County, North Carolina". United States Census Bureau.
  26. ^ Harris, Jennifer (April 7, 2022). "Co. board briefs". The Warren Record. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  27. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  28. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  29. ^ "County Manager". Warren County, North Carolina. Government of Warren County, North Carolina. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  30. ^ "Who, What & Mission Statement". Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  31. ^ "Warren County Representation : 2023-2024 Session". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  32. ^ "Warren County". North Carolina Judicial Branch. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  33. ^ a b Barkin, Dan (August 2, 2021). "Sunbrella's growth sparks Glen Raven's expansion in Warren County". Business North Carolina. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  34. ^ "The Lifestyle". Warren County, North Carolina. Government of Warren County, North Carolina. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  35. ^ "Talent & Training : Education & Training". Warren County, North Carolina. Government of Warren County, North Carolina. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  36. ^ a b c "The Neighbors Of Warren Co. : Residential Communities". Warren County, North Carolina. Government of Warren County, North Carolina. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  37. ^ Powell 1976, p. 517.

Works cited