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Franklin, North Carolina facts for kids

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Franklin, North Carolina
Buildings on Main Street in Downtown Franklin
Buildings on Main Street in Downtown Franklin
"Discover Us"
Location of Franklin, North Carolina
Location of Franklin, North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Macon
 • Total 4.99 sq mi (12.92 km2)
 • Land 4.90 sq mi (12.68 km2)
 • Water 0.09 sq mi (0.23 km2)
2,119 ft (646 m)
 • Total 3,845
 • Estimate 
 • Density 838.27/sq mi (323.66/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
28734, 28744
Area code(s) 828
FIPS code 37-24640
GNIS feature ID 1011373

Franklin is a town in and the county seat of Macon County, North Carolina, United States. It is situated within the Nantahala National Forest. The population was reported to be 4,175 in the 2020 census, an increase from the total of 3,845 tabulated in 2010.

The town developed around a 1,000-year old platform mound, the center of the historic Cherokee town of Nikwasi.

Franklin is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, specifically in relation to the Nantahala National Forest, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the Appalachian Trail. The town and the surrounding area is rich in gems and minerals, and is known locally as the "Gem Capital of The World."


Cherokee influence

Long before the first European settlers arrived to the mountains of southwestern North Carolina, they were home to the Cherokee Indian Nation. In a valley surrounded by some of the oldest mountains on earth, the Cherokee called the area that is now Franklin, "Nikwasi" or "center of activity". Nikwasi was an ancient and important Cherokee town. The remains of Nikwasi Mound are still visible in downtown Franklin, marking the location of Nikwasi's townhouse.

While the mound was probably built during the earlier Mississippian Culture, it was the spiritual center of the area. A Council House, or Town House, used for councils, religious ceremonies, and general meetings, was located on top the mound, and the ever-burning sacred fire, which the Cherokee had kept burning since the beginning of their culture, was located there. Thus the mound was a most revered site.


The city was named for Jesse Franklin, one of two state commissioners who surveyed and organized the town in 1820 as the county seat for what would become Macon County in 1828. Jesse Franklin served North Carolina as a senator and as its 20th governor. The city of Franklin was not formally incorporated until 1855.

Macon County Veterans Memorial Park

The Veterans Memorial Board of Directors in Macon County constructed a memorial at the county's recreation park in Franklin of the same name, The Macon County Veterans Memorial Park. The purpose of the memorial is to honor the veterans of Macon County that have made incredible sacrifices throughout history to preserve individual freedoms and secure the sovereignty of the United States.


Franklin is located at 35°10′52″N 83°22′54″W / 35.18111°N 83.38167°W / 35.18111; -83.38167 (35.181144, -83.381685).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.9 square miles (10 km2), of which, 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.78%) is water.

The Cullasaja River from Highlands flows into the Little Tennessee River in Franklin.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 207
1890 281 35.7%
1900 335 19.2%
1910 379 13.1%
1920 773 104.0%
1930 1,094 41.5%
1940 1,249 14.2%
1950 1,975 58.1%
1960 2,173 10.0%
1970 2,336 7.5%
1980 2,640 13.0%
1990 2,873 8.8%
2000 3,490 21.5%
2010 3,845 10.2%
2019 (est.) 4,105 6.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Franklin racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 3,206 76.79%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 50 1.2%
Native American 13 0.31%
Asian 50 1.2%
Other/Mixed 174 4.17%
Hispanic or Latino 682 16.34%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 4,175 people, 1,817 households, and 1,030 families residing in the town.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,845 people, 1,627 households, and 899 families residing in the town. The population density was 911.2 people per square mile (351.8/km2). There were 1,916 housing units at an average density of 500.2 per square mile (193.2/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 82.3% White, 1.9% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.49% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.01% of the population.

There were 1,627 households, out of which 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.7% were married couples living together, 12.4% were a single person household and 44.7% were non-families. 40.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 22.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.79.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 21.3% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 23.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 79.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $30,425. Males had a median income of $33,957 versus $27,363 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,761. About 15.2% of families and 20.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.4% of those under age 18 and 16.2% of those age 65 or over.

Growth and cost of living

Franklin's rate of population growth is 12% higher than the national average. Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, Franklin is situated more than one hour from Asheville. It is two hours from Atlanta, Georgia; Knoxville, Tennessee; or Greenville, South Carolina. Due to its proximity to these major cities, combined with a relatively rural location and lower cost of living, Franklin has developed as a destination for persons seeking retirement, recreational, permanent, or second homes. The 2010 cost-of-living index in Franklin: 86.7 (less than average, U.S. average is 100).


Monthly normal and record high and low temperatures
Mon. Avg.
Avg. Rec.

Jan 48 °F 24 °F 36 °F 78 °F -15 °F
Feb 53 °F 26 °F 39 °F 78 °F -5 °F
Mar 60 °F 32 °F 46 °F 85 °F -5 °F
Apr 69 °F 39 °F 54 °F 91 °F 17 °F
May 76 °F 49 °F 62 °F 91 °F 25 °F
Jun 81 °F 57 °F 69 °F 97 °F 34 °F
Jul 85 °F 62 °F 73 °F 101 °F 45 °F
Aug 83 °F 61 °F 72 °F 99 °F 40 °F
Sep 78 °F 55 °F 67 °F 98 °F 27 °F
Oct 69 °F 42 °F 56 °F 91 °F 15 °F
Nov 60 °F 33 °F 46 °F 82 °F 3 °F
Dec 50 °F 26 °F 38 °F 78 °F -8 °F

In the summer Franklin has temperatures in the lower 80's while during the winter temperatures rarely fall below the upper teens.

The warmest month of the year is July with an average maximum temperature of 84.50 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 24.00 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperature variations between night and day tend to be moderate during summer with a difference that can reach 22 degrees Fahrenheit, and moderate during winter with an average difference of 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

The annual average precipitation in Franklin is 54.47 inches and rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month of the year is March with an average rainfall of 5.76 inches.



The mountains that surround Franklin are lined with many hiking trails including the famous Appalachian Trail. The AT runs north and south only 10 miles west of Franklin and can be accessed at many locations in the area. Some 40 miles of side trails interlace with the AT in the region as well.

Another, lesser known trail also makes its way through area: Bartram Trail, named for American Botanist William Bartram, who documented the native flora and fauna of the area in 1775. Bartram Trail climbs into the hills of the Franklin area, inviting hikers to follow the explorer's footsteps and discover for themselves the exuberant natural world in which he took such delight.

Both the Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail cross over Wayah Bald, one of the best known places in the Franklin area for sightseeing.

Gem mining

The Franklin area is famous for its gem mining. Franklin hosts the famous jewelry and gem show, "Macon County Gemboree" twice a year. The Cowee Valley north of Franklin lures thousands each year to its mines, which yield valuable stones. There are also other gem mines located throughout the area. Among the native stones found are ruby, sapphire, and garnets. The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum is free to the public and has excellent exhibits.

Water falls

Cullasaja Falls

Cullasaja Falls is a waterfall in Southwestern North Carolina. The waterfall is located on the Cullasaja River in the Nantahala National Forest and is part of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway. Cullasaja comes from a Cherokee word meaning "honey locust place." The falls is the last major waterfall on the Cullasaja river. The falls is a long cascade over the course of 0.2 miles (0.32 km). The height of the falls is given as 200 ft (61 m) in Kevin Adams' book, North Carolina Waterfalls and 250 ft (77.1 m) by However, Google Earth gives a height (based on the elevation of the water at the top of the falls and the elevation of the plunge pool at the bottom of the falls) of 137 ft (42 m). It is easy to catch a glimpse of the falls as you drive by; however, getting a better view of the falls is not easy. The falls are located beside of a series of blind curves on Highway 64 with sheer rock cliffs above and below the road. There is only one small pull-off near the falls, but walking on the road puts visitors in danger of being hit by a passing vehicle.

Dry Falls

Dry Falls, also known as Upper Cullasaja Falls, is a 65-foot (20.1 m) waterfall located in the Nantahala National Forest, northwest of Highlands, North Carolina. Dry Falls flows on the Cullasaja River through the Nantahala National Forest. It is part of a series of waterfalls on a 8.7-mile (14.0 km) stretch of the river that eventually ends with Cullasaja Falls. Dry Falls flows over an overhanging bluff that allows visitors to walk up under the falls and remain relatively dry when the waterflow is low, hence its name. Visitors will get wet if the waterflow is high. The falls has been called Dry Falls for a long time, but has also gone by a few other names, including High Falls, Pitcher Falls, and Cullasaja Falls. Dry Falls is located on the side of U.S. Highway 64 15.7 miles (25.3 km) southeast of Franklin, North Carolina. There is a parking area on the side of the road, where visitors can park before walking the short path with stairs to the falls. The United States Forest Service has made improvements to the parking area and has reopened the public area.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls is a 45-foot (20.1 m) waterfall located in the Nantahala National Forest, southeast of Franklin. With a short curve of roadway located behind the falls, it has the distinction of being the only waterfall in the state that one can drive a vehicle under. Bridal Veil Falls flows on a tributary of the Cullasaja River through the Nantahala National Forest. The falls flows over an overhanging bluff that allows visitors to walk behind the falls and remain dry when the waterflow is low. During periods of drought, the stream may nearly dry up, though visitors will get wet if the waterflow is moderate or high. To avoid this, stay in your vehicle and drive behind the falls. Bridal Veil Falls is located on the side of U.S. Highway 64 16.5 miles (26.6 km) southeast of Franklin. Highway 64 originally used the curve of roadway behind the falls exclusively so that all traffic went behind them; however, this caused problems with icing of the roadway during freezing weather, and Hwy. 64 has been re-routed around the front of the falls since. There is a parking area on the side of the road, where visitors can park and view the falls as well. In 2003, a massive boulder slid off the left side of the falls, blocking that side of the drive-under completely. However, in July 2007, that boulder was removed by a local developer.

Quarry Falls

Quarry Falls is a small waterfall (or perhaps large rapid in high water) located beside US Hwy. 64 southeast of Franklin, North Carolina. Known to locals as "Sliding Rock", it is best known for the large, deep pool at the bottom and is a popular place for swimming during warm weather.

Scottish Tartans Museum

Franklin has been home to the Scottish Tartans Museum since 1994.

Macon County Airport

The Macon County Airport is located in the Iotla Valley, just north of Franklin, and reports ASOS weather station information as "Franklin" at :00, :20, and :40 past each hour. [1]

Notable people

  • Alexander Key, novelist, lived for a time on Wayah Valley Road near Franklin.
  • Charles Frazier, author of award-winning novel Cold Mountain, was raised in Franklin.
  • Shawn Bryson, athlete born and raised here, played for the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions during his time in the NFL.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Franklin (Carolina del Norte) para niños

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