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.

Watauga County, North Carolina

Watauga County Education, Geography, and HistoryWatauga County, North Carolina Courthouse

Watauga County is a county located in the state of North Carolina. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 51,079. Its county seat and largest town is Boone.

Watauga County comprises the Boone, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Watauga County Name

It was named for the Watauga River, which name came from an Indian word meaning "beautiful water."


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Watauga County History

Watauga was formed in 1849 from Ashe, Wilkes, Caldwell and Yancey. It was named for the Watauga River, which name came from an Indian word meaning "beautiful water." It is in the northwestern section of the State and is bounded by the State of Tennessee and Ashe, Wilkes, Caldwell and Avery counties. The present land area is 312.51 square miles and the 2000 population was 42,693. The first court was ordered to be held at the home of George Council, at which time justices of the peace were to decide upon a place for the future courts until the courthouse was erected. Commissioners were named to select a site for a county seat "which site shall be between Reuben Bartley's and a point one-half mile west of Willie McGee's east and west direction, and between John Pennell's and Howard's Knob north and south direction." They were to acquire the land and lay out a town and erect the public buildings. In 1851 a superior court was established for Watauga, and it directed that court was to be held in the courthouse at Boone. Boone, named in honor of Daniel Boone, is the county seat.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 312.56 square miles (809.5 km2), of which 313 square miles (810 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) (0.3%) is water.

Watauga County is extremely mountainous, and all of the county's terrain is located within the Appalachian Mountains range. The highest point in the county is Calloway Peak, the highest peak of Grandfather Mountain (shared with the adjacent counties of Avery and Caldwell), which rises to 5,964 feet (1,818 meters) above sea level. At an elevation of 5,506 feet (1,678 meters) above sea level, Beech Mountain is the highest incorporated community east of the Mississippi River. Boone, the county's largest city and county seat, has the highest elevation (3,333 feet) of any city over 10,000 population in the Eastern United States.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Ashe County - northeast
  • Wilkes County - east
  • Caldwell County - south
  • Avery County - southwest
  • Johnson County, Tennessee - northwest


Colleges and universities

Appalachian State University
Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute - satellite campus

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