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Haywood County, North Carolina facts for kids

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Haywood County
Haywood County Courthouse, c. 1932
Haywood County Courthouse, c. 1932
Official seal of Haywood County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Haywood 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 1808
Named for John Haywood
Seat Waynesville
Largest town Waynesville
 • Total 555 sq mi (1,440 km2)
 • Land 554 sq mi (1,430 km2)
 • Water 0.9 sq mi (2 km2)  0.2%%
 • Total 59,036
 • Density 107/sq mi (41/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 11th

Haywood County is a county in the western portion of the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 59,036. Its county seat and largest city is Waynesville.

Haywood County is part of the Asheville, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The county was formed by European Americans in 1808 from the western part of Buncombe County. It was named for John Haywood, who served as the North Carolina State Treasurer from 1787 to 1827.

In 1828 the western part of Haywood County became Macon County. In 1851 parts of Haywood and Macon counties were combined to form Jackson County.

The last shot of the Civil War east of the Mississippi was fired in Waynesville on May 9, 1865, when elements of the Thomas Legion (Confederate) skirmished with the 2nd NC Mounted (Union). A monument is situated on Sulphur Springs Road in Waynesville.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 555 square miles (1,440 km2), of which 554 square miles (1,430 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) (0.2%) is water.

The Pigeon River originates in Haywood County. It is the only county in North Carolina that all water flows out while none flows in.

Haywood County is situated amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains and contains parts of several major subranges of the Blue Ridge, namely the Great Smoky Mountains in the west and the Plott Balsams and Great Balsam Mountains in the south. Notable peaks in the county include Cold Mountain, at 6,030 feet (1,840 m), Mount Sterling, at 5,835 feet (1,779 m), and Richland Balsam, at 6,410 feet (1,950 m) in elevation. Mt. Guyot, the county's highest point at 6,621 feet (2,018 m), is the 4th highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. Black Balsam Knob, in the Great Balsam Mountains in the southeastern section of the county, is the highest grassy bald in the entire Appalachian range. Haywood County is believed to be the highest county (by mean elevation) east of the Mississippi River, with a mean elevation of 3600 feet (1095m).

A portion of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in the northwestern section of the county, north of Maggie Valley. Along with several mountains rising to over 6,000 feet (1,800 m) in elevation, the Haywood area of the Smokies includes Cataloochee, which is home to a large campground and several historical structures dating to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Other protected areas include substantial sections of the Pisgah National Forest in the far northeastern and southern parts of the county.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 2,780
1820 4,073 46.5%
1830 4,578 12.4%
1840 4,975 8.7%
1850 7,074 42.2%
1860 5,801 −18.0%
1870 7,921 36.5%
1880 10,271 29.7%
1890 13,346 29.9%
1900 16,222 21.5%
1910 21,020 29.6%
1920 23,496 11.8%
1930 28,273 20.3%
1940 34,804 23.1%
1950 37,631 8.1%
1960 39,711 5.5%
1970 41,710 5.0%
1980 46,495 11.5%
1990 46,942 1.0%
2000 54,033 15.1%
2010 59,036 9.3%
Est. 2015 59,868 1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 54,033 people, 23,100 households, and 16,054 families residing in the county. The population density was 98 people per square mile (38/km²). There were 28,640 housing units at an average density of 52 per square mile (20/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.85% White, 1.27% Black or African American, 0.49% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 0.71% from two or more races. 1.41% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 30.8% were of American, 12.9% English, 12.0% German, 10.4% Irish and 8.3% Scots-Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 97.1% spoke English and 1.9% Spanish as their first language.

There were 23,100 households out of which 26.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.70% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 26.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the county, the population was spread out with 20.80% under the age of 18, 6.20% from 18 to 24, 26.90% from 25 to 44, 27.10% from 45 to 64, and 19.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 92.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,922, and the median income for a family was $40,438. Males had a median income of $30,731 versus $21,750 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,554. About 8.10% of families and 11.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.40% of those under age 18 and 10.30% of those age 65 or over.


Major highways and roads

  • I-40
  • US 19
  • US 23
  • US 74
  • US 276
  • NC 110
  • NC 209
  • NC 215


Norfolk Southern Railway operates a portion the Murphy Branch through Haywood County, providing a rail connection with the rest of the state/country. Norfolk Southern operates a small yard in Canton which directly serves Evergreen Packaging Paper Company and originates several local runs.


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


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


  • Beaverdam
  • Bethel
  • Cataloochee
  • Cecil
  • Clyde
  • Crabtree
  • Cruso
  • East Fork
  • Fines Creek
  • Iron Duff
  • Ivy Hill
  • Jonathan Creek
  • Pigeon
  • Waynesville
  • White Oak

In popular culture

Cold Mountain, in southeast Haywood County within the Pisgah National Forest, became popularly known when featured as the title and setting of the 1997 historical novel Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. He explored the later stages of the American Civil War in the area and a Confederate soldier's effort to return home. The novel was adapted as a major motion picture, released by Miramax Films in 2003 and starring Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Renée Zellweger.

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