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Catawba County, North Carolina facts for kids

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Catawba County
Historic Catawba County Courthouse
Historic Catawba County Courthouse
Official seal of Catawba County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Catawba 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 1842
Named for Catawba tribe
Seat Newton
Largest city Hickory
 • Total 413 sq mi (1,070 km2)
 • Land 399 sq mi (1,030 km2)
 • Water 15 sq mi (40 km2)  3.6%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 401.77/sq mi (155.12/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 5th, 10th

Catawba County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 154,810. Its county seat is Newton, and its largest city is Hickory. The county is part of the Hickory–LenoirMorganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The county was formed in 1842 from Lincoln County. It was named for the Catawba tribe of Native Americans, who once inhabited the area. German Lutheran farmers settled the area in the 1700s.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 413 square miles (1,070 km2), of which 399 square miles (1,030 km2) is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) (3.6%) is water.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 8,862
1860 10,729 21.1%
1870 10,984 2.4%
1880 14,946 36.1%
1890 18,689 25.0%
1900 22,133 18.4%
1910 27,918 26.1%
1920 33,839 21.2%
1930 43,991 30.0%
1940 54,653 24.2%
1950 61,794 13.1%
1960 73,191 18.4%
1970 90,873 24.2%
1980 105,208 15.8%
1990 118,412 12.6%
2000 141,685 19.7%
2010 154,358 8.9%
2020 160,610 4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2019

2020 census

Catawba County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 116,120 72.3%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 12,628 7.86%
Native American 379 0.24%
Asian 6,937 4.32%
Pacific Islander 78 0.05%
Other/Mixed 7,091 4.42%
Hispanic or Latino 17,377 10.82%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 160,610 people, 62,417 households, and 41,861 families residing in the county.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 154,358 people, 55,533 households, and 39,095 families residing in the county. The population density was 354 people per square mile (137/km2). There were 59,919 housing units at an average density of 150 per square mile (58/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 87.1% White, 8.5% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 3.1% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, and 1.14% from two or more races, 9.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 55,533 households, out of which 31.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.10% were married couples living together, 10.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.60% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.30% under the age of 18, 8.80% from 18 to 24, 31.10% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 12.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 97.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,536, and the median income for a family was $47,474. Males had a median income of $30,822 versus $23,352 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,358. About 6.50% of families and 9.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.50% of those under age 18 and 9.70% of those age 65 or over.

Points of Interest

Museums and libraries

  • Catawba County FireFighters Museum
  • Catawba County Museum of History
  • Hickory Aviation Museum
  • Hickory Museum of Art
  • Catawba County Science Center
  • Murrays Mill
  • Public Libraries of Catawba County
  • Public Libraries of Hickory

Sports and entertainment

  • Hickory Crawdads
  • Hickory Motor Speedway

Music and performing arts

  • Newton-Conover Auditorium
  • The Green-Room Theatre
  • Western Piedmont Symphony
  • Hickory Community Theatre

Other attractions

  • Valley Hills Mall
  • Lake Norman
  • Lake Hickory
  • Lake Lookout


Major highways

  • I-40
  • US 70
  • US 321
  • Business plate.svg
    US 321.svg US 321 Bus.
  • NC 10
  • NC 16
  • Business plate.svg
    NC 16.svg NC 16 Bus.
  • Truck plate.svg
    NC 16.svg NC 16 Truck
  • NC 18
  • NC 127
  • NC 150


The county's primary general aviation airport is Hickory Regional Airport.

Mass transit


With approximately twenty freight trains a day, Catawba County is a freight railroad transportation center. This is largely due to the areas strong manufacturing based economy, and its placement along the Norfolk Southern Railway line. The Caldwell County Railroad also serves the county and interchanges with Norfolk Southern in Hickory.

Conover has been designated as the Catawba County passenger rail stop for the Western North Carolina Railroad planned to run from Salisbury, NC, to Asheville.


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



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


  • Bandy's
  • Caldwell
  • Catawba
  • Clines
  • Hickory
  • Jacobs Fork
  • Mountain Creek
  • Newton


Catawba County is part of the "North Carolina Data Center Corridor" in western North Carolina. The town of Maiden is home to the Apple iCloud data center and is the largest privately owned solar farm in the United States (operated by Apple). As of 2017, the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation controls a 55-acre business park in Conover designed for data centers and office use. CommScope, Inc., and Corning Corp., manufacturers of fiber optic cabling, became the region’s largest employers in the late 1990s. The city of Hickory is home to Lenoir–Rhyne University, the Hickory Motor Speedway, and the minor league baseball team the Hickory Crawdads. The town of Conover is home to the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn.


  • Most of the county is served by Catawba County Schools.
  • Newton and Conover are served by Newton-Conover City Schools.
  • Most of Hickory is served by the Hickory City School System.

Higher education

  • Lenoir–Rhyne University
  • Catawba Valley Community College
  • Appalachian Center at Hickory
  • NC Center for Engineering Technologies


  • The Catawba County Library System serves the residents of Catawba County. The library system operates 7 libraries throughout the county.
  • The Hickory Public Library System serves the residents of Hickory. The library system operates 2 libraries: The Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and the Ridgeview Library.
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