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Jackson County is a county located in the southwest of the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2010, the population was 40,271. Since 1913 its county seat has been Sylva, replacing Webster

Jackson County Courthouse - Sylva, NC in Jackson County of Western North Carolina
Jackson County Courthouse in Sylva, NC


The county was formed in 1852 from parts of Haywood County and Macon County. It was named for Andrew Jackson, President of the United States from 1829 to 1837.

In 1861 parts of Jackson County and Henderson County were combined to form Transylvania County. In 1871 parts of Jackson County and Macon County were combined to form Swain County.

Law and government

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

Jackson County contains a portion of the Qualla Boundary, a tribal reservation for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which is subject mostly to tribal/federal laws rather than county or state laws.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 494 square miles, of which 491 square miles is land and 4 square miles is water.


The county is divided into fifteen townships: Barker's Creek, Canada, Caney Fork, Cashiers, Cullowhee, Dillsboro, Greens Creek, Hamburg, Mountain, Qualla, River, Savannah, Scotts Creek, Sylva, and Webster.

Cities & Towns

  • Balsam (unincorporated, Scott Creek township)
  • Cashiers (unincorporated, Cashiers township)
  • Cullowhee (unincorporated, Cullowhee township)
  • Dillsboro (incorporated town, Dillsboro township)
  • Forest Hills ("village")
  • Glenville (unincorporated, Hamburg township)
  • Highlands (10% of incorporated town, Cashiers township)
  • Savannah (unincorporated)
  • Sylva (incorporated town, Sylva township)
  • Webster (unincorporated, Webster township)

Township Locations of Henderson County of Western North Carolina


As of the census of 2010, there were 40,271 people, 15,324 households residing in the county out of which 5.8% had children under the age of 5, 18.8% had children under the age of 18 and 15.0% were over the age of 65. The average persons per household was 2.10. The population density was 82 per square mile. There were 24,445 housing units at an average density of 49 per square mile.

  • White persons - 83.2%
  • Black persons - 1.8%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native persons - 9.4%
  • Asian persons - 0.9%
  • Persons reporting two or more races - 1.9%
  • Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 5.1%

The median income for a household in the county was $37,823. The per capita income for the county was $20,219. About 20.5% of the population were below the poverty line.

Roads & Highways

Jackson County is serviced by three main roads: The Great Smoky Mountains Expressway runs East-West across the northern half of the county and connects the county seat of Sylva to Waynesville and Asheville in the east and Cherokee, Andrews and Murphy in the west. North Carolina State Highway 107 connects Sylva and Western Carolina University to Cashiers in the south. U.S. Highway 64 traverses East-West across the southern part of the county connecting Cashiers to Brevard in the east and Highlands in the west.


Norfolk Southern Railway operates a portion the Murphy Branch through Jackson COunty, providing a rail connection with the rest of the country. In Sylva, NC, Norfolk Southern connects with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Interchange between the two lines is handled near Jackson Paper Company. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad opterates the rest of the Murphy Branch from Dillsboro, NC to Andrews, NC.


The county contains one airport, the Jackson County Airport located one mile east of Cullowhee.


Buff Creek Baptist Church is located just outside of Sylva. It is a small, conservative church with a family atmosphere.

Scotts Creek Baptist Church is located at 97 Steeple Road in Sylva, North Carolina. This family oriented church offers high quality programs for all ages each Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, as well as special events. Pastor Rich Peoples, who was called to the church in 1999, has led the church to involvement in missions and disaster relief locally, across the nation and around the world. The resulting growth created the need for a youth minister, Mark Rogers. He was called in January 2006.

Dick's Creek is a road and community just west of Dillsboro, North Carolina, off of highway 74 in Jackson County. Just over 1.5 miles up the road on the right is historic Dick's Creek Baptist Church built in 1903. Until 1946 this church was used as both a church and school. As of 2005, services are still held.

Popular Culture

Several movies have been filmed in the county including the 1993 blockbuster action-adventure The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, the 1972 drama Deliverance and the 1996 comedy My Fellow Americans starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner.

  • The infamous train wreck scene in The Fugitive was filmed in Dillsboro along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The wreckage set can still be viewed on outbound train excursions from Dillsboro. The later scene in a small hospital was filmed at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva.

  • The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad was also used in the filming of My Fellow Americans when they stumble on to a charter train full of UNC-Chapel Hill fans headed for the NCAA Final Four.

  • Mill Street on the back side of downtown Sylva was used for a short driving scene in the filming of Deliverance.

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