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Cherokee County, NC Visitor Center 2013
Map Location of Cherokee County of Western North Carolina
Tourist & Relocation Information Guide

Cherokee County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2010, the population was 27,444. Its county seat is Murphy.

Map Location of Cherokee County of Western North Carolina
Downtown Murphy, NC


The county was formed in 1839 from the western part of Macon County. It was named for the Cherokee people, some of whom still live in the area.

In 1861 the southeastern part of Cherokee County became Clay County; in 1872 its northeastern part became Graham County.

Law and government

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


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 467 square miles, of which 455 square miles is land and 11 square miles is water.

Natural Landscape

Located in the southern Appalachian Mountains, Cherokee County contains a varied natural landscape. Portions of the county fall within the boundaries of the Nantahala National Forest, and the Hiawassee River - a tributary of the Tennessee River - flows through the county from southeast to northwest.

In April 1974, parts of Cherokee County were affected by a historic weather event - the Super Outbreak of tornadoes, which affected parts of 13 states and was the largest such event to be recorded in the U.S.


The county is divided into six townships: Beaverdam, Hothouse, Murphy, Notla, Shoal Creek, and Valleytown.

Cities & Towns

  • Andrews
  • Murphy
  • Owl Creek
Township Locations of Cherokee County of Western North Carolina


Cherokee County is well-known in North Carolina as the westernmost of the state's 100 counties. Several US and state highways serve the county, linking it with other regions of North Carolina, along with the neighboring states of Georgia and Tennessee.

US 64 - the longest highway in North Carolina, and a cross-country highway - passes through the county east-west. US 74, which links Chattanooga, Asheville, Charlotte and Wilmington, is a major 4-lane highway through the county. US 19 and US 129 also pass through Cherokee County, providing connections to Atlanta (to the south) and Knoxville (to the north).


As of the census of 2010, there were 27,444 people, 11,015 households residing in the county out of which 5.1% had children under the age of 5, 19.7% had children under the age of 18 and 22.5% were over the age of 65. The average persons per household was 2.49. The population density was 59 per square mile. There were 16,715 housing units at an average density of 36 per square mile.

  • White persons - 93.6%
  • Black persons - 1.3%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native persons - 1.3%
  • Asian persons - 0.5%
  • Persons reporting two or more races - 2.5%
  • Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin -2.5%

The median income for a household in the county was $33,408. The per capita income for the county was $19,953. About 17.8% of the population were below the poverty line.

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