Columbus County, named in honor of the famed Christopher Columbus, was established in 1808, and its seat of government, Whiteville, was formed in 1832. The Waccamaw tribe inhabited the early region before European settlement. Some important natural attractions and features of the region are Lake Waccamaw, Green Swamp, and the North Carolina Museum of Forestry.
A western mountain county, Jackson is known for its interesting natural and physical characteristics, particularly the Great Smoky Mountains, the Tuskasegee River, and the Nantahala National Forest. Formed in 1851, Jackson’s county seat is the town of Sylva, and other communities include Cashiers, Glenville, and Balsam.
Sacred to the Cherokee, Judaculla Rock has long remained a tourist attraction, but also a mystery to archeologists and geologists. Located in Jackson County, the large soapstone exhibits intricate carvings that Cherokee believe were imprinted by the god of all Game Animals, Judaculla or Tsu’kalu. Yet, historians and archeologists have proposed different theories regarding the rock’s meaning.
Located in Mitchell County, the Penland School of Crafts has long been heralded as a haven for young craftsmen and women from around the world. Since its inception in the late 1920s, Penland has offered courses ranging from weaving to glassworking to silversmithing. Today, 1,200 people attend the school annually, and a vibrant, local crafts culture surrounds the school.
Founded in 1753, Rowan County became an important political and economic center for western North Carolina during the 1800s. Salisbury, the county seat, housed the only Confederate prison in North Carolina during the Civil War, and the Gold Hill community once served as a vital mineral source during North Carolina’s gold rush. Catawba College is located in Rowan, and many famous North Carolinians were born in the county.
Established in 1881 in the eastern Piedmont region of North Carolina, Vance County was named after the famous Civil War governor, Zebulon B. Vance. Home to the first military academy in North Carolina and Rose’s Department Stores, Vance County has since become a popular tourist attraction for water sport enthusiasts because of its large man-made Kerr Lake. The county seat of Vance is Henderson.
Annexed from Anson County in 1779, Richmond County was named in honor of the American colonist supporter, Charles Lennox, the third Duke of Richmond. The North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham was once a vital tourist attraction in the county, and the National Railroad Museum and the Hamlet Opera House continue to attract people from across the state and the nation. Notable Richmond County natives include jazz musician John Coltrane, and politicians Alfred Dockery and Camerson Morrison.
Site of first Patriot victory of the American Revolutionary War, Pender County has a unique history in North Carolina. Established in 1875, Pender’s county seat is Burgaw, and other communities include Topsail Beach, Surf City, and Rocky Point. The oldest house in North Carolina, the Sloop Point Plantation, stands in Pender County.
Home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Qualla Boundary, Swain County was formed in 1871 and rests in the mountains of North Carolina. The Eastern Band of Cherokee call the county their home, and the tribe’s cultural and historical influence is significant in Swain County. Tourism and the gaming industry (Harrah’s Casino) is the primary industry of the region.
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.