Wilkesboro, North Carolina

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Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Former Wilkes County Courthouse, now the Wilkes Heritage Museum
Former Wilkes County Courthouse, now the Wilkes Heritage Museum
Official seal of Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Location of Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Location of Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Coordinates: 36°8′33″N 81°9′45″W / 36.14250°N 81.16250°W / 36.14250; -81.16250Coordinates: 36°8′33″N 81°9′45″W / 36.14250°N 81.16250°W / 36.14250; -81.16250[1]
StateNorth Carolina
CountryUnited States
Named forJohn Wilkes
 • Total5.5 sq mi (14.3 km2)
 • Land5.5 sq mi (14.3 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
1,047 ft (319 m)
 • Total3,413
 • Estimate 
 • Density620/sq mi (240/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)336
FIPS code37-74020[3]
GNIS feature ID0997336[4]

Wilkesboro is a town in and the county seat of Wilkes County, North Carolina.[5] The population was 3,413 at the 2010 census.[6] The town is located along the south bank of the Yadkin River, directly opposite the town of North Wilkesboro. Wilkesboro is the home of the annual MerleFest festival.


Wilkesboro was founded in 1800 and quickly designated as the county seat. The town is built atop a low, broad ridge which runs for over a mile along the south bank of the Yadkin River. For many decades a popular historic spot in Wilkesboro was the "Tory Oak", a large oak tree from which Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, a well-known Wilkes County patriot during the American Revolutionary War, hung Loyalist militia leaders who supported the British King and opposed American independence from Britain. The oak was located behind the old Wilkes County courthouse. During the American Civil War many of Wilkesboro's residents remained loyal to the Union and opposed the Confederacy. In March 1865 General George Stoneman, a Union cavalry leader, led a raid through the town. Shortly after the war ended, Tom Dula (Dooley), a Confederate veteran, was tried and hanged for the murder of his fiancee, Laura Foster. Many people were convinced that one of Dula's jealous ex-girlfriends murdered Foster, and that Dula was innocent of the crime. Dula's story was turned into a top-selling ballad in 1958 by the Kingston Trio, the song was entitled "Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley". The story was subsequently turned into a 1959 movie starring Michael Landon as Dula, and each summer the Wilkes Playmakers present a popular play based on the story.

The Robert Cleveland Log House, Downtown Wilkesboro Historic District, Federal Building, J. T. Ferguson Store, Thomas B. Finley Law Office, J. L. Hemphill House, Johnson-Hubbard House, Old Wilkes County Jail, St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Cemetery, Wilkes County Courthouse, Wilkesboro Presbyterian Church, and Wilkesboro-Smithey Hotel are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[7]


Wilkesboro is served by the Wilkes County Schools system. Most of Wilkesboro's high school students attend Wilkes Central High School; it is located in the adjacent community of Moravian Falls. Wilkes Early College, based at Wilkes Community College, and one charter school, Bridges Charter School in State Road, North Carolina, offer other high-school options to Wilkesboro's students.[8] Middle school students in Wilkesboro attend Central Wilkes Middle School, located in Moravian Falls, while the elementary schools that serve the town are Wilkesboro Elementary, Moravian Falls Elementary, and CC Wright Elementary.

Wilkesboro is the home of Wilkes Community College, a public, coed, two-year college within the North Carolina Community College System. The college's enrollment is typically around 3,500 students.


Wilkesboro is served by several media sources based in nearby North Wilkesboro. The Wilkes Journal-Patriot is Wilkes County's largest and oldest newspaper and is published three times per week. The Record of Wilkes is published weekly. Wilkesboro is also served by the larger Winston-Salem Journal out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wilkes County's two largest radio stations are broadcast from North Wilkesboro: WKBC-FM (97.3 FM) broadcasts Adult Contemporary (hot AC) and WKBC (AM) (800 AM) broadcasts American Country music.


Wilkesboro's largest industry is the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant; it is one of the largest poultry plants east of the Mississippi River.[citation needed] The town also contains several textile factories.[citation needed]

Carolina West Wireless is based in Wilkesboro.[9]

Lowe's has a satellite corporate office in Wilkesboro.[10] The company employs approximately 2,000 people at its campus in Wilkesboro.[11]


As of the 2010 census, there were 3,413 people living in Wilkesboro. The population density was 622.5 people per square mile (14.2/km²). The racial makeup of Wilkesboro was 81.5% White, 8.9% African American, 3.0% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 4.0% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races.[12]

The population of Wilkesboro was spread out with 21.7% being under the age of 20, 6.1% from 20-24, 21.9% from 25-44, 25.6% from 45-64, and 24.5% being 65 and over. The median age was 45.2 years old, more specifically 40.8 for males and 49.5 for females.[12]

Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20163,554[2]4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]



Public Transportation[edit]

WTA, Wilkes Transportation Authority, is a local shuttle service based in Wilkesboro that utilizes vans and buses to serve Wilkes County. Fares range from $2-$24, but are typically around $4.[14] There is scheduled shuttle service that runs every hour roughly and unscheduled service that allows for riders to request a van pick up in any part of the county.

Intercity Bus[edit]

Daily bus service is available on Greyhound. Sunway buses stop in front of the Wilkes County Federal Building and Wilkesboro Post Office. They are chartered by Greyhound and advertised as Greyhound Express buses. Service goes to Boone, NC and Greensboro, NC, known as the Mountaineer East/West line with prices as low as $4. Passengers can connect to Greyhound services throughout the East Coast via the J. Douglas Galyon Depot where the line ends.[15]

Major Highways[edit]

Politics and religion[edit]

Like most of Wilkes County, Wilkesboro has long been a bastion of the Republican Party. Wilkesboro's largest religious group are the Southern Baptists, but the town does contain substantial numbers of Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians. The first two churches to be established in Wilkes County were built in Wilkesboro; they were missionary churches for the Episcopal and Presbyterian denominations. The town also contains Wilkes County's only Roman Catholic church.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  7. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  8. ^ "Wilkes County". Office of Charter Schools website. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  9. ^ "About Us". Carolina West Wireless. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  10. ^ "Our Work Environment." Lowe's. Retrieved on October 3, 2012.
  11. ^ "High schoolers recruited for Lowe's contact center". Wilkes Journal Patriot. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  12. ^ a b http://www.wilkesboronorthcarolina.com/business-2/fact-a-figures/regional-population
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "Wilkes Transportation Authority". wta1.org. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  15. ^ "Daily Line Runs". www.sunwaycharters.com. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  16. ^ United States Congress. "HACKETT, Richard Nathaniel (id: H000004)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  17. ^ Jim Hamby Profile. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

External links[edit]