Graham County, North Carolina

Graham County, North Carolina

Infobox U.S. County
county = Graham County
state = North Carolina

map size = 250
founded = 1872
seat = Robbinsville | area_total_sq_mi =302
area_water_sq_mi =10
area percentage = 3.16%
census yr = 2000
pop = 7993
density_km2 =11
web =

Graham County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2000, the population was 7,993. Its county seat is RobbinsvilleGR|6. Graham County is one of the four dry counties in North Carolina, along with Clay, Mitchell, and Yancey.


The county was formed January 30, 1872, from the northeastern part of Cherokee County. It was named for William A. Graham, United States Senator from North Carolina (1840-1843) and Governor of North Carolina (1845-1849).

Law and government

Graham County is a member of the regional Southwestern Commission council of governments.


Graham County covers 433 square miles with elevation ranges from 1,177 to 5,560 feet. Two-thirds of the county is the Nantahala National Forest. Fontana Lake, an impoundment of the Little Tennessee River, forms most of the the northern border of the county, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side of the lake. Fontana Lake is formed by Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern U.S. The northern boundary of Graham County is also formed by an impoundment of the Cheoah River created by Cheoah Dam.

Fontana Dam and Cheoah Dam are both operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Cheoah River is noted for its Class IV and Class V whitewater rapids. The river is used for whitewater rafting about 17 days per year, based on a water-release schedule from Cheoah Dam.

The Appalachian Trail winds through Graham County. Part of the trail is located on top of Fontana Dam.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a rare example of an old growth cove hardwood forest, is located in northwestern Graham County. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness area.

The eastern terminus of the Cherohala Skyway is located in northwestern Graham County. The 36-mile Cherohala Skyway connects Graham County with Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

Seventy-five percent of Lake Santeetlah shoreline borders national forest.


The county is divided into three townships: Cheoah, Stecoah, and Yellow Creek.

Other communities

Other communities in Graham County include Fontana Village, Tapoco and Tuskeegee. Topton is located just outside the Graham County boundary, where Graham, Cherokee, Swain and Macon counties converge.

Indian reservation

Parts of the Qualla Boundary, also known as the Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation, are located in Graham County. These sections of the Qualla Boundary are non-contiguous from the primary part of the Qualla Boundary located in Swain and Jackson counties. The Cherokees who live in Graham County form the Snowbird Cherokee community.

Adjacent counties

*Swain County, North Carolina - north and east
*Macon County, North Carolina - southeast
*Cherokee County, North Carolina - south
*Monroe County, Tennessee - west
*Blount County, Tennessee - northwest


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 7,993 people, 3,354 households, and 2,411 families residing in the county. The population density was 27 people per square mile (11/km²). There were 5,084 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.91% White, 0.19% Black or African American, 6.84% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. 0.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 27.6% were of American, 15.1% Irish, 12.7% English, 10.6% German and 5.1% Scots-Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 97.7% spoke English and 1.3% Cherokee as their first language.

There were 3,354 households out of which 27.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.80% were married couples living together, 8.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.10% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.00% under the age of 18, 7.30% from 18 to 24, 25.20% from 25 to 44, 27.50% from 45 to 64, and 18.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 95.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,645, and the median income for a family was $32,750. Males had a median income of $24,207 versus $18,668 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,237. About 14.40% of families and 19.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.30% of those under age 18 and 20.40% of those age 65 or over.


* The county is the birthplace of country music legend Ronnie Milsap
* Graham County is home to the Tail of the Dragon, a stretch of 318 curves in 11 miles of US Highway 129. It is popular with motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts.
* Portions of the 1994 movie Nell starring Jodie Foster were filmed near Robbinsville.
* Portions of the 1993 movie The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford were filmed at Cheoah Dam.
* Junaluska, a leader of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, lived in Graham County. His grave and a museum about his life is located in Graham County.

Cities and towns

*Lake Santeetlah

ee also

* USS "Graham County" (LST-1176)


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