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.

Surry County, North Carolina

Surry County Education, Geography, and HistorySurry County, North Carolina Courthouse

Surry County is a county located in the state of North Carolina. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 73,673. Its county seat is Dobson, and its largest city is Mount Airy.

Surry county comprises the Mount Airy, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point, NC Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Surry County Name

It was named in honor of the county of Surrey in England, birthplace of then Governor William Tryon.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Surry County History

Surry was formed in 1771 from Rowan. The act became effective April 1, 1771. It was named in honor of the county of Surrey in England, birthplace of then Governor William Tryon. It is in the north central section of the State and is bounded by the state of Virginia and Stokes, Yadkin, Wilkes and Alleghany counties. The present land area is 536.52 square miles and the 2000 population was 71,219. The act erecting the county provided for the court to be held "constantly" at Gideon Wright's until the courthouse could be constructed. Commissioners were named to select the place and have the courthouse, prison and stocks erected. By 1774 some of the commissioners were named to finish the building. In 1779 the courthouse was established at Richmond on land of Colonel Martin Armstrong and William Sheppard. In 1789 Surry was divided and Stokes was formed from it. When this was done the old courthouse was inconvenient for either county. Therefore, the act dividing the county specified that the court was to be held at the home of Richard Horn until a courthouse, prison and stocks could be erected at a central place. Another act passed that year directed the old courthouse to be sold and the money be equally divided between Surry and Stokes. the proceeds to be used on their respective courthouses. In 1790 Rickford was established on fifty-three acres of land deeded by Thomas and Moses Ayres for that purpose. Commissioners were named to erect public buildings. In 1851, when Yadkin was formed from Surry, the act named and directed commissioners to locate the center of the county and fix the county seat. It also named commissioners to acquire fifty acres of land by purchase of donation and erect the courthouse. The law also stipulated that the town was to be named Dobson. Dobson is the county seat.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 536 square miles (1,390 km2), of which 532 square miles (1,380 km2) is land and 4.1 square miles (11 km2) (0.8%) is water.

The whole county is generally considered part of the Piedmont Triad metropolitan area. Surry County is located in the Yadkin Valley AVA, an American Viticultural Area. Wines made from grapes grown in Surry County may carry the appellation Yadkin Valley on their label.

Surry County is located both within the Piedmont region of central North Carolina and in the Appalachian Mountains region of western North Carolina. Most of the eastern two-thirds of the county lies within the Piedmont, a region of gently rolling hills and valleys. However, the Piedmont of Surry County also contains a small portion of the Sauratown Mountains; Surry County marks the western end of the Sauratown Mountain range. The western third of the county lies within the Blue Ridge Mountains, and they dominate the county's western horizon. The mountain passes (called "gaps" locally) are notorious for their occasional high winds, which can force automobiles and even large Eighteen wheeler trucks off the highways which lead through the passes. As a result, high wind advisories issued by the National Weather Service are not uncommon. The highest point in Surry County is Fisher Peak in the Blue Ridge; it rises to 3,570 feet (1,088 m) above sea level. However, the best-known peak in Surry County is not the highest. That honor goes to Pilot Mountain, an isolated monadnock and a North Carolina landmark. Pilot Mountain sharply rises some 2,421 feet (738 m) above the surrounding countryside, and can be seen for miles.

Another notable peak in Surry County is Cumberland Knob, in the northwest corner of the county, which was the starting point of the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The following table provides a list of some of the more prominent mountains of the county.

While there are many creeks and streams in Surry County, there are three recognized major rivers in the county, the Ararat, the Fisher, and the Mitchell. All three flow southward and are tributaries of the Yadkin River, which forms the southern border of Surry County. The Yadkin River is the northern component of the Pee Dee River which flows to the Atlantic Ocean near Georgetown, South Carolina.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Carroll County, Virginia - north
  • Patrick County, Virginia - northeast
  • Stokes County - east
  • Forsyth County - southeast
  • Yadkin County - south
  • Wilkes County - southwest
  • Alleghany County - northwest
  • Grayson County, Virginia - north-northwest


Surry County is divided into three local school systems: Surry County Schools, Mount Airy City Schools, and Elkin City Schools.

Colleges and universities

Surry Community College, part of the North Carolina Community College System, is the county's only institution for post-secondary education.

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