Founded in 1668, Currituck County was an original port for the colony of North Carolina. A northern Outer Banks county, Currituck serves as an important tourist and outdoor enthusiasts attraction, with the Currituck Lighthouse and the Whalehead Club being the most well-known historical sites. It is recognized as the home to a significant “Banker” pony population.
One of the most important early colonial counties of North Carolina, Craven County was established in 1712, and its county seat, New Bern, served as the colonial capital until 1788. The Tryon Palace Historic Site remains a popular tourist attraction in Craven County, and New Bern was the site of the first Pepsi-Cola drink ever made. Craven County was the site of the state’s first newspaper and the first charter school.
Formed in 1788 from Rowan County, Iredell County was named after Justice James Iredell. Some notable attractions and historic sites in Iredell include Fort Dobbs, Race City USA, and the western-themed campgrounds of Love Valley. Lake Norman, one of the largest man-made lakes in the nation, covers over 500 miles in Iredell County.
Annexed from the Rutherford and Burke counties, McDowell County rests in the mountains of North Carolina. Once the gold producing center during the North Carolina gold rush, McDowell has various historic and cultural attractions throughout its forest-covered land. The Arrowhead Monument, the Carson House, and Andrew Geyser are visited annually by tourists from around the state.
Formed from Craven County, Jones County was established in 1779, and its county seat is Trenton. Before the Civil War, the plantation-style economy thrived in the county, and Jones became one of the richest counties of the antebellum period. President Washington, President Monroe, and John C. Calhoun all visited Jones County in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
On the border of the Piedmont and the coastal region, Nash was incorporated in 1777. Its namesake is General Francis Nash who died while serving the Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War. An important agricultural county, Nash County farmers grow crops ranging from tobacco to cucumbers to cotton. The first Hardee’s Restaurant opened in Nash County in 1960, and Jim Thorpe started his baseball career in the region with the Rocky Mount Railroaders.
Formed out of Guilford County in 1785, Rockingham County was initially inhabited by the Cheraw Indians and later by the English, Germans, and Scotch-Irish. Its current population is approximately 92,000. Although not the county’s largest town, Wentworth serves as the county seat.
Home to the culturally significant Duplin Winery and Warsaw Veterans Day Celebration, Duplin County was established in 1852. Its county seat is Kenansville, and other townships within the area include Warsaw, Magnolia, and Rose Hill. The state’s first Presbyterian church, the Grove congregation, was formed in the 1700s, and the church continues in its affluence in present Duplin County.
Site of the first gold rush in the United States and the birthplace of iconic NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Cabarrus County provides a vital culture and historic piece to North Carolina’s history. Originally part of Mecklenburg County, Cabarrus was formed in 1792 and named after Stephen Cabarrus, Speaker of North Carolina’s House of Commons in the late-eighteenth century.
A county in North Carolina’s “High Country,” Avery was established in 1911 and earned the county the distinction as the hundredth-county in the state. One of the highest counties in the eastern United States, Avery County is in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to the man-made Linn Cove Viaduct and the natural-wonder Grandfather Mountain. Year after year, numerous tourists visit Avery, bringing over $50 million into the county’s economy annually.