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Map Location of Madison County of Western North Carolina
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Madison County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2010, the population was 20,764. Its county seat is Marshall.

Madison County Court House in Marshall, NC of Western North Carolina
Madison County Court House in Marshall, NC


The county was formed in 1851 from parts of Buncombe County and Yancey County. It was named for James Madison, fourth President of the United States (1809-1817).

Law and government

Madison County is a member of the Land-of-Sky Regional Council of governments. With the exception of the town of Hot Springs, Madison County is a "dry" county, meaning that the sale and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages is illegal within the county limits. However, the county is also known for the sizable amounts of homemade liquor, often called moonshine, which is produced within its borders.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 452 square miles, of which, 449 square miles of it is land and 2 square miles of it is water.

Madison County is located deep in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, and much of the county's terrain is rugged, heavily forested, and sparsely populated. The county's northern border is with the State of Tennessee. Madison County's largest river is the French Broad River, which flows north-northwest through the county, first past the county seat of Marshall, then past the resort town of Hot Springs.


Madison County's public educational system consists of one high school, located in the county seat of Marshall, one middle school, and four elementary schools. The county is also home to Mars Hill College, a private, coed, four-year liberal-arts college affiliated with the North Carolina Baptist Convention. Founded in 1856, Mars Hill is the oldest college in western North Carolina; it offers 31 majors in five degrees.


The county is divided into eleven townships: North Marshall and South Marshall, Laurel, Mars Hill, Beech Glenn, Walnut, Hot Springs, Ebbs Chapel, Spring Creek, Sandy Mush, Grapevine, and Revere Rice Cove.


  • Hot Springs
  • Mars Hill
  • Marshall

Township Locations of Madison County of Western North Carolina


As of the census of 2010, there were 20,764 people, 8,144 households residing in the county out of which 5.0% had children under the age of 5, 20.3% had children under the age of 18 and 17.1% were over the age of 65. The average persons per household was 2.55. The population density was 46 per square mile. There were 10,999 housing units at an average density of 24 per square mile.

  • White persons - 96.5%
  • Black persons - 1.2%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native persons - 0.2%
  • Asian persons - 0.3%
  • Persons reporting two or more races - 1.3%
  • Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 2.0%

The median income for a household in the county was $36,135. The per capita income for the county was $18,717. About 19.3% of the population were below the poverty line.

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