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Caldwell County, North Carolina facts for kids

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Caldwell County
Caldwell County Courthouse in Lenoir
Caldwell County Courthouse in Lenoir
Official seal of Caldwell County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Caldwell County
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
Founded 1841
Named for Joseph Caldwell
Seat Lenoir
Largest city Lenoir
 • Total 474 sq mi (1,230 km2)
 • Land 472 sq mi (1,220 km2)
 • Water 2.7 sq mi (7 km2)  0.6%%
 • Total 80,652
 • Density 171/sq mi (66/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 5th

Caldwell County is a county in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As of the 2020 census, the population was 80,652. Its county seat is Lenoir. Caldwell County is part of the HickoryLenoirMorganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The county was formed in 1841 from parts of Burke County and Wilkes County. It was named for Joseph Caldwell, presiding professor (1796–1797, 1799–1804) and the first president (1804–1812, 1816–1835) of the University of North Carolina.

A series of reductions in the county's territory followed. In 1847 parts of Caldwell County, Iredell County, and Wilkes County were combined to form Alexander County. In 1849 parts of Caldwell County, Ashe County, Wilkes County, and Yancey County were combined to form Watauga County. In 1861, parts of Caldwell County, Burke County, McDowell County, Watauga County, and Yancey County were combined to form Mitchell County. Finally, in 1911 parts of Caldwell County, Mitchell County, and Watauga County were combined to form Avery County.


Blowing Rock
The rocky outcropping of Blowing Rock in the town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 474 square miles (1,230 km2), of which 472 square miles (1,220 km2) is land and 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2) (0.6%) is water.

Caldwell County is divided into three distinct geographic sections: the Blue Ridge Mountains, which dominate the northern and western parts of the county; the gently rolling Piedmont country in the middle and southern parts of the county; and the Brushy Mountains, an isolated remnant of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The "Brushies", as they are often called, run across much of Caldwell County's eastern section. Hibriten Mountain, located within the city limits of Lenoir, the county's largest city, marks the western end of the Brushy Mountain range. In the western part of the county is the Wilson Creek area.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 6,317
1860 7,497 18.7%
1870 8,476 13.1%
1880 10,291 21.4%
1890 12,298 19.5%
1900 15,694 27.6%
1910 20,579 31.1%
1920 19,984 −2.9%
1930 28,016 40.2%
1940 35,795 27.8%
1950 43,352 21.1%
1960 49,552 14.3%
1970 56,699 14.4%
1980 67,746 19.5%
1990 70,709 4.4%
2000 77,415 9.5%
2010 83,029 7.3%
2020 80,652 −2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014

2020 census

Caldwell County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 67,868 84.15%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 3,843 4.76%
Native American 196 0.24%
Asian 527 0.65%
Pacific Islander 15 0.02%
Other/Mixed 3,280 4.07%
Hispanic or Latino 4,923 6.1%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 80,652 people, 32,513 households, and 20,975 families residing in the county.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 83,029 people, 33,388 households, and 23,456 families residing in the county. The population density was 176.1 people per square mile (109.4/km2). There were 37,659 housing units at an average density of 79.9 per square mile (49.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 90.24% White, 4.92% Black or African American, 0.52% Asian, 0.31% Native American, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.47% from other races, and 1.51% from two or more races. The Hispanic or Latino (of any race) population was 4.57%.

There were 33,388 households, of which 32.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.16% were married couples living together, 12.52% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.75% were non-families. 25.39% of all households were made up of individuals living alone, and 41.16% of those households had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.91.

Of the county's entire population, 22.63% was under the age of 18, 18.33% were 18 to 34, 22.44% were 35 to 49, 21.17% were 50 to 64, and 15.44% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.3 years. For every 100 females there were 96.84 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.06 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,853, and the median income for a family was $47,028. Males had a median income of $36,429 versus $31,221 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,397. About 15.3% of families and 20.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 51.8% of single mothers and 13.2% of people age 65 or over.


Major highways

US 321 is the busiest highway in the county with an annual average daily traffic count of 39,000.

Other major highways include:

  • NC 18
  • US 64
  • NC 90
  • US 321A
  • NC 268
  • US 221

The Blue Ridge Parkway also crosses the northern tip of the county.


Caldwell County has one railroad, the Caldwell County Railroad which interchanges with the Norfolk Southern Railway in Hickory, North Carolina.


Map of Caldwell County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
Map of Caldwell County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels




Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities


Elementary schools

  • Baton
  • Davenport
  • Dudley Shoals
  • Gamewell
  • Granite Falls
  • Hudson
  • Lower Creek
  • Sawmills
  • Valmead
  • West Lenoir
  • Whitnel

K-8 schools

  • Collettsville
  • Happy Valley
  • Kings Creek
  • Oak Hill Charter School

Middle schools

  • Gamewell
  • Granite Falls
  • Hudson
  • William Lenoir

High schools

  • Caldwell Applied Sciences Academy
  • Caldwell Early College
  • Hibriten
  • South Caldwell
  • West Caldwell

Alternative schools

  • Horizons Elementary
  • Gateway School

Private schools

  • Heritage Christian School (K-12)


  • Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute
  • Appalachian State University Center at Caldwell (a distance education site for Appalachian State University)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Caldwell (Carolina del Norte) para niños

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