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–Lenoir–Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The county, formed in 1842 from Lincoln County, was named for the Catawba River. The word "catawba" is rooted in the Choctaw sound kat'a pa, loosely translated as "to divide or separate, to break." However, scholars are fairly certain that this word was imposed from outside. The Native Americans known as the Catawba people, a tribe of indigenous people who once inhabited the region, were considered one of the most powerful Southeastern Siouan-speaking tribes in the Carolina Piedmont. They now live along the border of North Carolina near the city of Rock Hill, South Carolina. German and Scots-Irish colonial immigrants first settled in the Catawba River valley in the mid-18th century. An official history of the German and Scots-Irish settlement was documented in 1954 by Charles J. Preslar Jr, and more recently by a series of three books by Gary Freeze, called The Catawbans.
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.
Government, law, and public safety
Catawba County is a member of the regional Western Piedmont Council of Governments. The county has been represented primarily by Republicans since World War II: no Democratic Presidential candidate has won Catawba County since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944. Jimmy Carter is the last Democrat to manage even 40 percent of the county's vote.
Board of Commissioners
Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisors
Superior Court Judges
District Court Judges
Catawba County Sheriff
The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office consists of 198 Deputies and Employees. It provides court protection, jail administration, patrol and detective services for all unincorporated county areas, serves civil process and criminal papers, provides School Resource Officers at County High and Middle Schools and CV Community College, and narcotics crime investigation. Newton, Hickory, Conover, and Maiden have municipal police departments. The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation, the SBI, provides investigative assistance to local law enforcement agencies when requested by the sheriff, local police departments, the district attorney, or judges.
North Carolina General Assembly
North Carolina House of Representatives
North Carolina Senate
House of Representatives
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which is land and (3.6%) is water.
Alexander County, North Carolina (north)
Iredell County, North Carolina (east)
Lincoln County, North Carolina (south)
Caldwell County, North Carolina (northwest)
Burke County, North Carolina (west)
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 160,610 people, 62,417 households, and 41,861 families residing in the county.
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.
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.
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.
Points of Interest
Museums and historical sites
Catawba County Firefighters Museum
Catawba County Museum of History
Hickory Aviation Museum
Hickory Museum of Art
Catawba Science Center
Bunker Hill Covered Bridge
Piedmont Wagon Company
Sports and entertainment
Hickory Motor Speedway
Music and performing arts
The Green-Room Theatre
Western Piedmont Symphony
Hickory Community Theatre
Valley Hills Mall
US 321 Bus.
NC 16 Bus.
NC 16 Truck
The county's primary general aviation airport is Hickory Regional Airport.
Greenway Public Transportation bus service serves the cities of Conover, Hickory, and Newton.
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.
thumb|upright=1.5|Map of Catawba County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels