North Carolina Counties
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North Carolina Counties

North Carolina is divided into one hundred counties. The establishment of North Carolina counties stretches over 240 years, beginning in 1668 with the creation of Albemarle County and ending with the 1911 creation of Avery and Hoke counties. Five counties have been divided or abolished altogether, the last being Dobbs County in 1791.

Clay County, North Carolina

Clay County Education, Geography, and HistoryClay County, North Carolina Courthouse

Clay County is a county located in the state of North Carolina. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 10,587. Its county seat is Hayesville.

Etymology - Origin of Clay County Name

It was named in honor of Henry Clay.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Clay County History

Clay was formed in 1861 from Cherokee. It was named in honor of Henry Clay. It is in the western section of the State and is bounded by the state of Georgia and Cherokee and Macon counties. The present land area is 214.70 square miles and the 2000 population was 8,775. Commissioners were directed to hold their first meeting in the Methodist Church near Fort Hembree. Special commissioners were named to select a site for the courthouse and lay out a town by the name of Hayesville. Hayesville, named in honor of George W. Hayes, is the county seat.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 221 square miles (570 km2), of which 215 square miles (560 km2) is land and 5.9 square miles (15 km2) (2.7%) is water. It is the third-smallest county in North Carolina by land area and smallest by total area.

Clay County is bordered to the south by the state of Georgia and the Chattahoochee National Forest. The Nantahala River forms part of its northeastern border. The county is drained by the Hiwassee River. In the southern part of Clay County is Chatuge Lake, on the North Carolina - Georgia border. Much of Clay County exists within the Nantahala National Forest. Fires Creek Bear Reserve is north of the township of Tusquittee.

The eastern portion of the county is preserved as part of the Nantahala National Forest.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Macon County (northeast)
  • Rabun County, Georgia (southeast)
  • Towns County, Georgia (south)
  • Union County, Georgia (southwest)
  • Cherokee County (northwest)


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