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.

Graham County, North Carolina

Graham County Education, Geography, and HistoryGraham County, North Carolina Courthouse

Graham County is a county located in the state of North Carolina. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 8,861, making it the third-least populous county in North Carolina. Its county seat is Robbinsville. The county was formed January 30, 1872, from the northeastern part of Cherokee County. It was named for William A. Graham, United States Senator from North Carolina (1840-1843) and Governor of North Carolina (1845-1849).

Etymology - Origin of Graham County Name

It was named in honor of William A. Graham, United States Senator, Governor of North Carolina, secretary of the navy, and a Confederate States Senator.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Graham County History

Graham was formed in 1872 from Cherokee. It was named in honor of William A. Graham, United States Senator, Governor of North Carolina, secretary of the navy, and a Confederate States Senator. It is in the western section of the State and is bounded by the state of Tennessee and Cherokee and Swain counties. The present land area is 292.07 square miles and the 2000 population was 7,993. The first meeting of the county commissioners was ordered to be held at King & Cooper's store; commissioners were named to lay out a town as a county seat. The county seat is Robbinsville.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 302 square miles (780 km2), of which 292 square miles (760 km2) is land and 9.6 square miles (25 km2) (3.2%) is water. The terrain of the county is mountainous, with elevations ranging from 1,177 feet (359 m) to 5,560 feet (1,690 m). Two-thirds of the county is the Nantahala National Forest. The soil of the valleys is fertile.

Fontana Lake, an impoundment of the Little Tennessee River, forms most of the northern border of the county, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side of the lake. Fontana Lake is formed by Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern US The remainder of the northern boundary of Graham County is almost completely formed by another impoundment of the Little Tennessee River, downstream from Fontana Dam, created by Cheoah Dam. Fontana Dam and Cheoah Dam are both operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Appalachian Trail winds through Graham County. Part of the trail is located on top of Fontana Dam. The Cheoah River is noted for its Class IV and Class V whitewater rapids. The river is used for whitewater rafting about 17 days per year, based on a water-release schedule from Santeetlah Dam. Seventy-five percent of Lake Santeetlah shoreline borders national forest.

The eastern terminus of the Cherohala Skyway is located in northwestern Graham County. The 36-mile (58 km) Cherohala Skyway connects Graham County with Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

The Cherokee name for the area, Nantahala, is translated as "land of the noon-day sun" because 90% of the land is slopes of 30 degrees or greater, suggesting that in the valleys one sees the sun only in the middle of the day.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Swain County - northeast
  • Macon County - southeast
  • Cherokee County - south
  • Monroe County, Tennessee - west
  • Blount County, Tennessee - northwest


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