WATAUGA County, NC
Watauga County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 51,079. Its county seat and largest town is Boone. The county is in an exceptionally mountainous region. It is the home of Appalachian State University, which has approximately 20,023 students as of August 20, 2020. Watauga County comprises the Boone, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area.
The county was formed in 1849 from parts of Ashe, Caldwell, Wilkes, and Yancey counties. It was named for the Watauga River, whose name is said to be a Native American word. Meanings include "beautiful water," "whispering waters," "village of many springs," and "river of islands."
As with most of North Carolina's High Country, the climate of Watauga County is that of a Humid continental climate, characterized by considerably cooler and more extreme weather than in other parts of the state. Dramatic and unexpected changes in the weather are not uncommon in the county, particularly for precipitation. This is partly due to the elevation of the county, and partly due to orographic lifting, which causes precipitation to fall more readily in Watauga County than in lowland areas to the east. Summers can be very warm, with temperatures commonly in the 80s and on a rare occasion in the 90s. Snow usually starts in November, and there can be snow falls in April, although this is not usual. Windy conditions tend to be amplified across the county due to the rugged terrain and high elevation.
Because of the cold weather in Watauga County, the area is home to several ski resorts. Among them is Appalachian Ski Mountain.
thumb|300px|Snake Mountain (5,564') in Northern Watauga County
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which is land and (0.3%) is water.
Watauga County is extremely mountainous, and all of the county's terrain is located within the Appalachian Mountains range. The highest point in the county is Calloway Peak, the highest peak of Grandfather Mountain (shared with the adjacent counties of Avery and Caldwell), which rises to 5,964 feet (1,818 meters) above sea level. At an elevation of 5,506 feet (1,678 meters) above sea level, Beech Mountain is the highest incorporated community east of the Mississippi River. Boone, the county's largest city and county seat, has the highest elevation (3,333 feet) of any city over 10,000 population in the Eastern United States.
Isolated by mountainous terrain from the remainder of North Carolina to the east, Watauga County was described in the 19th and early 20th centuries as one of the Lost Provinces of North Carolina.
National protected areas
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 54,086 people, 21,077 households, and 11,452 families residing in the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 42,695 people, 16,540 households, and 9,411 families residing in the county. The population density was 137 people per square mile (53/km2). There were 23,155 housing units at an average density of 74 per square mile (29/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.45% White, 1.59% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.59% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.45% from other races, and 0.62% from two or more races. 1.46% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.
According to the 2000 Census the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Watauga County were: English (25.1%), German (22.5%) and Irish (13.3%).
Most of those claiming Irish ancestry in Watauga county are actually of Scots-Irish/Ulster-Scots Protestant background and not Irish Catholics.
There were 16,540 households, out of which 23.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.40% were married couples living together, 6.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.10% were non-families. 28.60% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.80.
The age distribution is 16.30% under the age of 18, 27.80% from 18 to 24, 23.40% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. The overall age distribution and median age are greatly affected by the presence of Appalachian State University in Boone. For every 100 females there are 99.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.20 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $32,611, and the median income for a family was $45,508. Males had a median income of $29,135 versus $22,006 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,258. About 7.20% of families and 17.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.50% of those under age 18 and 10.60% of those age 65 or over.
thumb|300px|Map of Watauga County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
Government, public safety, politics
Watauga County is governed by an elected Board of Commissioners who provide administration policy for the appointed County Manager.
Watauga County is a member of the regional High Country Council of Governments.
County sheriff and municipal police
The Sheriff's Office provides court protection, jail management, and protection of all county owned facilities for all of Watauga County and patrol and detective services for the unincorporated areas of the county. The towns of Boone, Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, and Seven Devils have municipal police departments.
Fire protection and emergency services
Fire protection is provided by 13 fire departments in Watauga County including Beaver Dam, Boone, Beech Mountain, Cove Creek, Deep Gap, Foscoe, Meat Camp, Shawneehaw, Stewart, Simmons, Todd, and Zionville. The Emergency Management Office coordinates resources for emergency services.
Historically, Watauga's strong Unionist sympathies – though not as strong as North Carolina highland-mountain counties like Avery and Mitchell, or counties with Quaker, antislavery histories like Yadkin – meant the county voted mainly Republican during the Solid South Democrat era, except in Presidential landslides. The only Democrats to gain an absolute majority of the county's vote in the 20th century were Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, and by a very narrow margin, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, whilst Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and Bill Clinton in 1992 obtained pluralities in three-cornered contests. The growth of Appalachian State University has, however, turned Watauga into a very competitive swing county, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton carrying the county in 2008 and 2016 and Joe Biden carrying the county in 2020. The county has also proved favorable for Libertarians, with Watauga being Gary Johnson's best county in all of North Carolina in both his 2012 and 2016 campaigns.
Colleges and universities
No commercial airports or passenger train depots are nearby. AMTRAK serves High Point and Winston-Salem in the nearby Piedmont area, and Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) bus provides connecting shuttle service to Watauga County. A helipad is in service at the Watauga Medical Center. A small general aviation airstrip (FAA Identifier: NC14) is located in Boone. Commercial airline passengers typically utilize the airports at Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina, or Tri-Cities in Tennessee.
There is a public transport system in Boone provided by Appalcart that services the downtown and some outlying areas, with special routes to rural areas and intercity transit routes to Wilkes, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Lenoir, Hickory, Lincolnton, Gastonia and Charlotte for a small fee.
This page uses material from the Wikipedia article Watauga County, NC, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0. Township-6t4ab-c4u-75d-ef78-iy9