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Unicoi County, Tennessee facts for kids

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Unicoi County
Unicoi County Courthouse in Erwin
Unicoi County Courthouse in Erwin
Map of Tennessee highlighting Unicoi County
Location within the U.S. state of Tennessee
Map of the United States highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Tennessee
Founded March 23, 1875
Named for Cherokee word for "fog-draped" or "hazy"
Seat Erwin
Largest town Erwin
 • Total 186 sq mi (480 km2)
 • Land 186 sq mi (480 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)  0.2%%
 • Total 17,928 Decrease
 • Density 98/sq mi (38/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st

Unicoi County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,313. Its county seat is Erwin. Unicoi is a Cherokee word meaning "white," "hazy," "fog-like," or "fog draped." Unicoi County is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–KingsportBristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area, commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region.


Unicoi County was created in 1875 from portions of Washington and Carter counties, though the first settlers had arrived more than century earlier. The county remained predominantly agrarian until the arrival of railroads in the area in the 1880s.

During the 1910s, the Clinchfield Railroad established a pottery in Erwin, which eventually incorporated under the name, "Southern Potteries." This company produced a popular brand of dishware, commonly called Blue Ridge China, which featured hand-painted underglaze designs. While the company folded in the 1950s, Blue Ridge dishes remain popular with antique collectors.


The Appalachian Trail approaching the summit of Big Bald

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 186 square miles (480 km2), of which 186 square miles (480 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (0.2%) is water. It is the fifth-smallest county in Tennessee by total area. The Nolichucky River, which enters Unicoi County from North Carolina, is the county's primary drainage.

Unicoi County is situated entirely within the Blue Ridge Mountains, specifically the Bald Mountains (south of the Nolichucky) and the Unaka Range (north of the Nolichucky). Big Bald, which at 5,516 feet (1,681 m) is the highest mountain in the Balds, is also Unicoi County's high point. Traversed by the Appalachian Trail, the mountain is topped by a grassy bald, allowing a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

State protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 3,645
1890 4,619 26.7%
1900 5,851 26.7%
1910 7,201 23.1%
1920 10,120 40.5%
1930 12,678 25.3%
1940 14,128 11.4%
1950 15,886 12.4%
1960 15,082 −5.1%
1970 15,254 1.1%
1980 16,362 7.3%
1990 16,549 1.1%
2000 17,667 6.8%
2010 18,313 3.7%
2020 17,928 −2.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014
USA Unicoi County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid Unicoi County

2020 census

Unicoi County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 16,175 90.22%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 44 0.25%
Native American 38 0.21%
Asian 37 0.21%
Other/Mixed 527 2.94%
Hispanic or Latino 1,107 6.17%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 17,928 people, 7,658 households, and 4,953 families residing in the county.



Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Unicoi para niños

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