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Athens County
The Athens County court house in Athens
The Athens County court house in Athens
Official seal of Athens County
Seal
Map of Ohio highlighting Athens County
Location within the U.S. state of Ohio
Map of the United States highlighting Ohio
Ohio's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Ohio
Founded March 1, 1805
Named for Athens, Greece
Seat Athens
Largest city Athens
Area
 • Total 508 sq mi (1,320 km2)
 • Land 504 sq mi (1,310 km2)
 • Water 4.8 sq mi (12 km2)  1.0%%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 62,431
 • Density 122.90/sq mi (47.45/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 6th, 15th
Downtown Athens OH USA
Court Street, main street in uptown Athens

Athens County is a county in southeastern Ohio. As of the 2020 census, the population was 62,431. Its county seat is Athens. The county was formed in 1805 from Washington County. Because the original state university (Ohio University) was founded there in 1804, the town and the county were named for the ancient center of learning, Athens, Greece.

Athens County comprises the Athens, OH Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Geography

The county has a total area of 508 square miles (1,320 km2), of which 504 square miles (1,310 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12 km2) (1.0%) is water.

Athens County is located in the Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau region of Ohio. It features steep, rugged hills, with typical relief of 150 to 400 feet, deeply dissected by stream valleys, many of them remnant from the ancient Teays River drainage system. Most of Athens County is within the Hocking River watershed, with smaller areas in the Shade River and Raccoon Creek watersheds. The Hocking River joins the Ohio River at the unincorporated village of Hockingport in Athens County.

Adjacent counties

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 2,791
1820 6,338 127.1%
1830 9,787 54.4%
1840 19,109 95.2%
1850 18,215 −4.7%
1860 21,364 17.3%
1870 23,768 11.3%
1880 28,411 19.5%
1890 35,194 23.9%
1900 38,730 10.0%
1910 47,798 23.4%
1920 50,430 5.5%
1930 44,175 −12.4%
1940 46,166 4.5%
1950 45,839 −0.7%
1960 46,998 2.5%
1970 54,889 16.8%
1980 56,399 2.8%
1990 59,549 5.6%
2000 62,223 4.5%
2010 64,757 4.1%
2020 62,431 −3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 64,757 people, 23,578 households, and 12,453 families living in the county. The population density was 128.6 inhabitants per square mile (49.7/km2). There were 26,385 housing units at an average density of 52.4 per square mile (20.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.8% white, 2.7% black or African American, 2.7% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.4% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 22.1% were German, 15.2% were American, 14.0% were Irish, 10.4% were English, and 5.5% were Italian.

Of the 23,578 households, 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 47.2% were non-families, and 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.87. The median age was 26.3 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,559 and the median income for a family was $48,170. Males had a median income of $38,135 versus $31,263 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,642. About 16.6% of families and 30.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.6% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.

Public lands

Federal lands

  • Belleville Lock and Dam Public Access Area (Troy Township)
  • Tom Jenkins Dam (at Burr Oak State Park, Trimble Township)
  • Wayne National Forest (Dover, York, Trimble, Canaan Townships)

State lands

  • Burr Oak State Park
  • Strouds Run State Park
  • Acadia Cliffs State Nature Preserve
  • Fox Lake Wildlife Area
  • Waterloo Wildlife Research Station
  • Marie J. Desonier State Nature Preserve
  • Riddle State Nature Preserve
  • Gifford State Forest
  • Waterloo State Forest
  • Zaleski State Forest

County properties

  • Ferndale Park
  • County Farm
  • Hockhocking-Adena Bike Path
  • Moonville Rail-Trail

Communities

Map of Athens County Ohio With Municipal and Township Labels
Map of Athens County, Ohio With Municipal and Township Labels

Cities

Villages

Townships

  • Alexander
  • Ames
  • Athens
  • Bern
  • Canaan
  • Carthage
  • Dover
  • Lee
  • Lodi
  • Rome
  • Trimble
  • Troy
  • Waterloo
  • York

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Economy

The largest employer in Athens County is Ohio University. Other significant employers include Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare, Hocking College, Diagnostic Hybrids, O'Bleness Memorial Hospital, Rocky Brands, Stewart-MacDonald, Wayne National Forest, and a growing number of retail stores and restaurants. Local government, local school districts, and nonprofit organizations employ many county residents.

Historically, the first large-scale industry was salt production. Coal mining and timber harvesting played major roles in Athens County's economy, as did the treatment and care of the mentally ill.

The coal industry has declined dramatically from its peak years. Only Buckingham Coal is still mining in the county, in Trimble Township north of Glouster. Gravel and limestone are mined at several quarries in the county. Active oil and natural gas wells are found in low numbers throughout Athens County.

Forestry still contributes to the Athens County economy, both in the private sector and in the public sector. The headquarters for Wayne National Forest is located between Athens and Nelsonville.

Farming and market gardening continue to thrive in the area. The largest farms specialize in beef and dairy production. The Athens Farmers Market, an outdoor market, continues to grow in popularity. Local and organically grown produce is found in abundance during the summer months.

Also, tourism is a large and growing component of the county's economy. The county is a regional music center and home to many arts and crafts businesses. Many visitors to the county are drawn to its natural resources and abundant wildlife. Hunting and fishing are popular activities in season. The county has over 19 miles of paved bike path in and between Athens and Nelsonville. Hiking and mountain biking are popular throughout the county, especially in the state parks and national forest.

Higher education remains the cornerstone of the county's economy. Over one-quarter of the county's residents either attend or work at Hocking College or Ohio University.

Education

Colleges and universities

CampusOU
Ohio University in the Fall

Athens County is home to Hocking College in Nelsonville and Ohio University in the City of Athens.

K-12 schools

The residents of Athens County are served by the five school districts: the Alexander Local School District, Athens City School District, the Federal Hocking Local School District, Nelsonville-York City School District, and the Trimble Local School District.

Libraries

They are also served by the Athens County Public Libraries with branches in Albany, Athens, Chauncey, Coolville, Glouster, Nelsonville, and The Plains.

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