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Mitchell County, NC Visitor Center 2013
Map Location of Mitchell County of Western North Carolina
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Mitchell County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2010, the population is 15,687. Its county seat is Bakersville. Mitchell County is one of the four dry counties in North Carolina, along with Clay, Graham, and Yancey.

Downtown Spruce Pine of Western North Carolina
Downtown Spruce Pine, NC


The county was formed in 1861 from parts of Burke County, Caldwell County, McDowell County, Watauga County, and Yancey County. It was named for Elisha Mitchell, professor of mathematics, chemistry, geology, and mineralogy at the University of North Carolina from 1818 until his death in 1857. Dr. Mitchell was the first scientist to argue that a nearby peak in the Black Mountains was the highest point east of the Mississippi River. He measured the mountain's height and climbed and explored it. In 1857 he fell to his death on a waterfall on the side of the mountain. The mountain was subsequently named Mount Mitchell in his honor.

Law and government

Mitchell County is a member of the regional High Country Council of Governments.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 222 square miles, of which, 221 square miles of it is land and 1 square miles of it is water. Sections of both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail are located in the County.


The county is divided into nine townships: Bakersville, Bradshaw, Cane Creek, Fork Mountain-Little Rock Creek (previously two separate townships), Grassy Creek, Harrell, Poplar, Red Hill, and Snow Creek.

Cities & Towns

  • Bakersville
  • Spruce Pine
Township Locations of Mitchell County of Western North Carolina


As of the census of 2010, there were 15,579 people, 6,585 households residing in the county out of which 5.4% had children under the age of 5, 20.3% had children under the age of 18 and 19.8% were over the age of 65. The average persons per household was 2.36. The population density was 70 per square mile. There were 8,430 housing units at an average density of 38 per square mile.

  • White persons - 95.3%
  • Black persons - 0.4%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native persons - 0.4%
  • Asian persons - 0.3%
  • Persons reporting two or more races - 1.1%
  • Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 4.1%

The median income for a household in the county was $35,398. The per capita income for the county was $18,522. About 18.3% of the population were below the poverty line.

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