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Waynesville, North Carolina
Waynesville, North Carolina
Waynesville, North Carolina
Official seal of Waynesville, North Carolina
Location in North Carolina
Location in North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Haywood
Incorporated 1810
 • Total 8.83 sq mi (22.87 km2)
 • Land 8.83 sq mi (22.87 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0%
2,752 ft (839 m)
 • Total 9,869
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,148.60/sq mi (443.49/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
28738, 28785, 28786
Area code(s) 828
FIPS code 37-71500
GNIS feature ID 1023138

Waynesville is a town in and the county seat of Haywood County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest town in Haywood County and the largest in western North Carolina west of Asheville. Waynesville is located about 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Asheville between the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge mountains.

As of the 2010 census, Waynesville had a population of 9,869. The town is located just outside the Pisgah National Forest and is close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Waynesville and Haywood County are part of the four-county Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area, currently the fifth largest metropolitan area in North Carolina. It is the third largest town in the MSA behind the cities of Asheville and Hendersonville.


Waynesville is located at 35°29′00″N 82°59′40″W / 35.483226°N 82.994511°W / 35.483226; -82.994511 (35.483226, -82.994511).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 7.8 square miles (20 km2), all of it land.

Most of the town of Waynesville lies between 2500 and 3000 feet (750~900m) above sea level, and is located in a valley among 6000-foot (1800m) mountain peaks. A USGS survey marker at the old Haywood County Courthouse in downtown Waynesville lists the elevation as 2,752 feet (839 m) above sea level.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 225
1890 455 102.2%
1900 1,307 187.3%
1910 2,008 53.6%
1920 1,942 −3.3%
1930 2,414 24.3%
1940 2,940 21.8%
1950 5,295 80.1%
1960 6,159 16.3%
1970 6,488 5.3%
1980 6,765 4.3%
1990 6,758 −0.1%
2000 9,232 36.6%
2010 9,869 6.9%
2019 (est.) 10,141 2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Waynesville racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 8,683 85.63%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 183 1.8%
Native American 67 0.66%
Asian 102 1.01%
Other/Mixed 425 4.19%
Hispanic or Latino 680 6.71%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 10,140 people, 4,680 households, and 2,724 families residing in the town.


Waynesville has an oceanic climate under the Köppen climate classification (Köppen Cfb).

Climate data for Waynesville, North Carolina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Average high °F (°C) 49.0
Average low °F (°C) 23.3
Record low °F (°C) −22
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.33
Snowfall inches (cm) 4.7
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.7 10.7 11.7 11.5 12.6 13.0 14.1 12.6 10.1 8.4 10.1 11.0 136.5
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 2.1 2.1 1.2 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.4 1.4 7.6
Source: NOAA (normals 1981−2010)


Downtown Waynesville c. 1900

The Town of Waynesville was founded in 1810 by Colonel Robert Love, an American Revolutionary War soldier. He donated land for the courthouse, jail, and public square, and named the town after his former commander in the war, General "Mad" Anthony Wayne.

The Boone-Withers House, Citizens Bank and Trust Company Building, Former, Francis Grist Mill, Frog Level Historic District, Haywood County Courthouse, Alden and Thomasene Howell House, Masonic Hall, Charles and Annie Quinlan House, Clyde H. Ray Sr. House, Frank Smathers House, Spread Out Historic District, Waynesville Municipal Building, Dr. J. Howell Way House, and Waynesville Main Street Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The "Battle" of Waynesville Waynesville also has a connection to another war, as it was the scene of the last and perhaps most unusual skirmish in the eastern theater of the American Civil War. On May 6, 1865, Union Colonel William C. Bartlett's 2nd North Carolina (Federal) Mounted Infantry were raiding, pillaging, burning homes and engaging in other activities to undermine the economic base of the area and were attacked at White Sulphur Springs (east of Waynesville) by a detachment of rebels from the Thomas Legion of Highlanders, who had been summoned for help by locals.

East of the Mississippi, Thomas' Legion fired "The Last Shot" of the Civil War in White Sulphur Springs, North Carolina. The Legion consisted of both Cherokee and White soldiers. Some of these soldiers had served under Jubal A. Early during the Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1864, but had been sent back to their native North Carolina mountains to engage in guerrilla warfare against the remaining Union forces.

The disoriented Union soldiers retreated into Waynesville, and on the evening of May 6 remaining elements of the Thomas Legion surrounded the town. The soldiers lit numerous bonfires on the ridges above the town and engaged in war chants in an effort to intimidate the Federals. The following day the Confederate commanders Gen. James Green Martin and Col. William Holland Thomas (for whom the Legion was named) negotiated a surrender. These commanders had been made aware that Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston had already capitulated and that continued hostilities would prove pointless.

The Town of Waynesville was incorporated in 1871. In July 1995, the towns of Hazelwood and Waynesville merged into one community and continued to grow with a population today of almost 10,000.

Frog Level

Waynesville Train Depot in Frog Level, c. 1890s

Waynesville began to see development after arrival of the railroad in 1884. The agricultural, lumber and tourism industries in Waynesville and Haywood County began to thrive as access to the west was opened up.

The area of Waynesville located along Richland Creek, northwest and down hill from Main Street, was where the railroad tracks were laid. Until this time the area had been essentially a swampland, with a few scattered buildings but no major development. Once the depot was built and the train arrived this section was developed. It was given the name of Frog Level. Frog Level was so named by the local community because of its low-lying location along Richland Creek, the "frog level" when the area flooded.

Downtown and the nearby Frog Level commercial centers of Waynesville continued to be the central focus for social life, transportation, and wholesale and retail businesses through the 1940s. Businesses in the Frog Level area in the 1930s and 1940s included hardware stores, farm supplies, coal sales, auto dealers and garages, furniture stores, wholesale groceries, and warehouses and lumber companies, all of which were businesses dependent on the railroad.

As the automobile became the primary mode of transportation for most residents, the railroad declined in importance. This in turn led to a shift of business away from Frog Level. The last passenger train arrived in Waynesville in 1949, and freight trains pass through Frog Level twice daily, with most trains continuing on to Sylva.

By the 1980s the railroad in Waynesville had been integrated into the Southern Railway Company system. The first depot burned in 1900, but it was soon replaced with another depot that remained standing until 1987.


Downtown Waynesville, NC IMG 5166
Downtown Waynesville (2012)
  • Downtown - Once the primary retail business center of the town, downtown Waynesville is now home to art galleries, cafes, restaurants, shops, banks, doctors offices, and town and county government administration buildings.
  • Frog Level - The historic district whose name came about because of frequent flooding of Richland Creek. As transportation shifted from railway to cars in the 40's, business shifted up the hill to higher ground. By the 70s and 80s, Frog Level became known as a seedy part of downtown, mainly due to a now-closed bar called The Tap Room. In recent years, the revitalization of Main Street has spread down into this area. In 2003, the Frog Level Historic District was placed in the National Register of Historic Places. The local merchants association presents The Whole Bloomin' Thing Spring Festival every year just before the last frost date, marking the start of planting season for the locals. The festival draws approximately 8,000 attendees to the area and features nature related themes. The historic Murphy Branch of the old Western North Carolina Railroad runs through Frog Level and still carries freight rail traffic twice daily from the Blue Ridge Southern Railway, which now owns the line.
  • Hazelwood - Due to financial troubles, this once independent town ceased to exist and was annexed by Waynesville in 1995. Its zip code is 28738
  • Laurel Ridge - The Laurel Ridge neighborhood is connected to a country club of the same name and features a golf course, pool, tennis courts, and upscale mountain homes.
  • West Waynesville - Once the industrial part of town, West Waynesville is now home to a large shopping center called Waynesville Commons which sits on the site of the old Dayco factory and includes the following retailers: Walmart, Best Buy, Belk, PetSmart, Michaels, Rack Room Shoes, GameStop, Sally Beauty Supply, Verizon Wireless, US Cellular, Super Clips, Mattress Firm, and Citi Financial.
  • Russ Avenue - A newer business district featuring restaurants, retail stores, auto dealerships, banks, and grocery stores. Russ Avenue is the most traveled surface street in Haywood County.


Gateway to Smokies Sign
Waynesville calls itself the "Gateway to the Smokies"

Waynesville is connected to Interstate 40 and the rest of southwestern North Carolina via the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, giving it easy access to Knoxville and Asheville. There is no airport in Haywood County mostly due to its close proximity to the Asheville Regional Airport and Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport. Asheville is about a 40-minute drive east, Knoxville is an hour and a half to the northwest. The Great Smoky Mountains Expressway is a four-lane divided highway between Sylva and Exit 98 near West Waynesville. Then it is a four-lane freeway to Interstate 40 near Canton. It has exits for Hazelwood, West Waynesville and Russ Avenue through the town.

In 2014, Watco purchased all of the railroad track running through Waynesville from Norfolk Southern for its Blue Ridge Southern Railroad short line. The line connects Waynesville by railroad to Sylva to the west, as well as to the interchange with Norfolk Southern at Asheville to the east.

Waynesville Watershed

Waynesville’s watershed is located southwest of the town and covers an area of 8,400 acres (34 km2) of town-owned land on the headwaters of Allens Creek making it much larger than the town itself (7.9 square miles.) Tributary streams within the watershed flow into the Waynesville Reservoir, a 50-acre (200,000 m2) man-made lake created by a dam on Allens Creek. The reservoir and surrounding watershed are classified by the State of North Carolina as WS-1. This classification is the state’s most stringent and forbids development within the watershed boundary.


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