Carter County, Tennessee

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Carter County
Carter County Courthouse in Elizabethton
Carter County tn seal.jpg
Map of Tennessee highlighting Carter County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Tennessee
Tennessee in United States.svg
Tennessee's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 36°18′N82°07′W / 36.3°N 82.12°W / 36.3; -82.12
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of Tennessee.svg  Tennessee
Named for Landon Carter [1]
Seat Elizabethton
Largest cityElizabethton
  Total348 sq mi (900 km2)
  Land341 sq mi (880 km2)
  Water6.4 sq mi (17 km2)  1.8%%
  Density168/sq mi (65/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st

Carter County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 57,424. [2] Its county seat is Elizabethton. [3] The county is named in honor of Landon Carter (1760-1800), an early settler active in the "Lost State of Franklin" 1784-1788 secession from the State of North Carolina.

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, a county is an administrative or political subdivision of a state that consists of a geographic region with specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs, respectively.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders.

Tennessee U.S. state in the United States

Tennessee is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Tennessee is the 36th largest and the 16th most populous of the 50 United States. Tennessee is bordered by eight states, with Kentucky to the north, Virginia to the northeast, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, Arkansas to the west, and Missouri to the northwest. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state's western border. Nashville is the state's capital and largest city, with a 2017 population of 667,560 and a 2017 metro population of 1,903,045. Tennessee's second largest city is Memphis, which had a population of 652,236 in 2017.


Carter County is part of the Johnson City, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City Kingsport Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area, located in northeastern Tennessee.

Johnson City, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Johnson City is a city in Washington, Carter, and Sullivan counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, with most of the city being in Washington County. As of the 2010 census, the population of Johnson City was 63,152, and by 2017 the estimated population was 66,391, making it the ninth-largest city in the state.

Kingsport, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Kingsport is a city in Sullivan and Hawkins counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee; most of the city is in Sullivan County and the city is the largest in both counties, but is the county seat of neither. As of the 2010 census the population was 48,205; as of 2018 the estimated population was 54,076.

Bristol, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Bristol is a city in Sullivan County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 26,702 at the 2010 census. It is the twin city of Bristol, Virginia, which lies directly across the state line between Tennessee and Virginia. The boundary between the two cities is also the state line, which runs along State Street in their common downtown district. Bristol is a principal city of the Kingsport−Bristol−Bristol, TN-VA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City−Kingsport−Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area − commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region.


A map of the Province of Carolina Carolinacolony.png
A map of the Province of Carolina

The area was originally claimed by Britain as part of the Clarendon settlements of the Province of Carolina, although actually populated at the time by the Cherokee.

Province of Carolina Colony in North America

The Province of Carolina was an English and later a British colony of North America. Carolina was founded in what is present-day North Carolina. Carolina expanded south and, at its greatest extent, nominally included the present-day states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, and parts of modern Florida and Louisiana.

The Cherokee are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentrated in what is now southwestern North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee, edges of western South Carolina, northeastern Georgia and northeastern Alabama.

The area was part of (though seldom actually administered by) the following jurisdictions in its early history:

New Hanover County, North Carolina U.S. county in North Carolina

New Hanover County is one of 100 counties located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 202,667. Though the second-smallest county in land area, it is one of the most populous, as its county seat, Wilmington, is one of the state's largest cities. The county was created in 1729 as New Hanover Precinct and gained county status in 1739.

Bladen County, North Carolina U.S. county in North Carolina

Bladen County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 35,190. Its county seat is Elizabethtown. The county was created in 1734 as Bladen Precinct and gained county status in 1739.

Anson County, North Carolina U.S. county in North Carolina

Anson County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 26,948. Its county seat is Wadesboro.

Watauga Association

The county is named for General Landon Carter, [4] the son of John Carter of Virginia, who was "chairman of the court" of the first majority-rule system of American democracy, known as the Watauga Association of 1772. The association was the first permanent settlement established outside the original thirteen American colonies and included the area that is today's Carter County. In 1775, the Association was absorbed into North Carolina by petition, becoming known thereafter as the Washington District.

In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an established grade above general. General is equivalent to the rank of admiral in the other uniformed services. Since the grades of General of the Army and General of the Air Force are reserved for wartime use only, and since the Marine Corps has no five-star equivalent, the grade of general is currently considered to be the highest appointment an officer can achieve in these three services.

Colony of Virginia English/British possession in North America (1607–1776)

The Colony of Virginia, chartered in 1606 and settled in 1607, was the first enduring English colony in North America, following failed proprietary attempts at settlement on Newfoundland by Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583, and the subsequent further south Roanoke Island by Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 1580s.

Watauga Association 18th Century semi-autonomous government

The Watauga Association was a semi-autonomous government created in 1772 by frontier settlers living along the Watauga River in what is now Elizabethton, Tennessee. Although it lasted only a few years, the Watauga Association provided a basis for what later developed into the state of Tennessee and likely influenced other western frontier governments in the trans-Appalachian region. North Carolina annexed the Watauga settlement area, by then known as the Washington District, in November 1776. Within a year, the area was placed under a county government, becoming Washington County, North Carolina, in November 1777.

As Wayne County in the State of Franklin

J. G. M. Ramsey records within his 1853 Annals of Tennessee that the State of Franklin established Wayne County from sections of both Washington County and a part of Wilkes County "lying west of the extreme heights of the Apalachian or Alleghany Mountains, into a separate and distinct county by the name of Wayne... This new county covered the same territory now embraced in the limits of Carter and Johnson counties." [5]

J. G. M. Ramsey American historian

James Gettys McGready Ramsey was an American historian, physician, planter, slave owner, and businessman, active primarily in East Tennessee during the nineteenth century. Ramsey is perhaps best known for his book, The Annals of Tennessee to the End of the Eighteenth Century, a seminal work documenting the state's frontier and early statehood periods. Ramsey was also a major advocate for development in East Tennessee, leading efforts to bring railroad access to the region, and helping to organize the region's first medical society.

The county seat, Elizabethton, is named for Carter's wife, Elizabeth MacLin Carter. [6]

Civil War

Like most East Tennessee counties, Carter Countians opposed secession on the eve of the Civil War. In Tennessee's Ordinance of Secession referendum on June 8, 1861, Carter Countians rejected secession by a vote of 1,343 to 86. [7] A railroad bridge at Carter's Depot (modern Watauga) was among those targeted by the East Tennessee bridge-burning conspiracy in November 1861. [8]

Early railroad

Carter County was served by the narrow gauge East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (The ET&WNC, nicknamed "Tweetsie") until the line ceased operations in 1950.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 348 square miles (900 km2), of which 341 square miles (880 km2) is land and 6.4 square miles (17 km2) (1.8%) is water. [9]

Carter County is situated entirely within the Blue Ridge Mountains, specifically the Unaka Range and the Iron Mountains. [10] Roan Mountain, which at 6,285 feet (1,916 m) is the highest point in Tennessee outside the Great Smoky Mountains, straddles the county's eastern border with North Carolina. The county's boundary with Sullivan County is defined as the ridgeline of Holston Mountain.




The main waterfall at Blue Hole Falls, located northeast of Elizabethton on Holston Mountain. BlueHole.jpg
The main waterfall at Blue Hole Falls, located northeast of Elizabethton on Holston Mountain.
  • CTF015 Big Laurel Br. Falls 50'
  • CTF001 Blue Hole Falls (4) 45'
    Cherokee National Forest
  • CTF018 Boof Falls? 12'
    Cherokee National Forest
  • CTF002 Coon Den Falls 50'
    Cherokee National Forest
  • CTF003 Dennis Cove Falls 25'
  • CTF005 Firescald Branch Falls
  • CTF016 Five Eights
  • CTF006 Jones Falls 100'
    Cherokee National Forest
  • CTF007 Laurel Falls 55'
  • CTF010 Laurel Falls (m) 25'
  • CTF011 Laurel Falls (u) 25'
  • CTF014 Mountaineer Falls 20'
    Cherokee National Forest
  • CTF012 North Fork Stony Creek Falls 30'
    Cherokee National Forest
  • CTF008 Sally Cove Creek Falls 25'
  • CTF009 Twisting Falls 30'
    Cherokee National Forest
  • CTF013 Splash Dam Falls? 25'
    Cherokee National Forest
  • CTF017 Watauga Falls? 18'
    Cherokee National Forest

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

State protected areas

Major highways

Law enforcement

Carter County is served by the Carter County Sheriff's Office, located in Elizabethton. As of 2014, the Sheriff of Carter County is Dexter Lunceford. [12] The Elizabethton Police Department services the City of Elizabethton inside Carter County. As of 2018, the Chief of Police is Jason Shaw. [13]


Climate data for Carter County, Tennessee (Bristol-Johnson City)
Average high °F (°C)43.7
Daily mean °F (°C)34.0
Average low °F (°C)24.3
Average rainfall inches (mm)3.2
Average snowfall inches (cm)5.2
Average relative humidity (%)59.071.569.067.069.573.075.076.576.574.068.569.574.0
Source: [14]


Historical population
1800 4,813
1810 4,190−12.9%
1820 4,83515.4%
1830 6,41432.7%
1840 5,372−16.2%
1850 6,29617.2%
1860 7,12413.2%
1870 7,90911.0%
1880 10,01926.7%
1890 13,38933.6%
1900 16,68824.6%
1910 19,83818.9%
1920 21,4888.3%
1930 29,22336.0%
1940 35,12720.2%
1950 42,43220.8%
1960 41,578−2.0%
1970 42,5752.4%
1980 50,20517.9%
1990 51,5052.6%
2000 56,74210.2%
2010 57,4241.2%
Est. 201856,351 [15] −1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census [16]
1790-1960 [17] 1900-1990 [18]
1990-2000 [19] 2010-2014 [2]
Age pyramid Carter County USA Carter County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid.svg
Age pyramid Carter County

As of the census [21] of 2000, there were 56,742 people, 23,486 households, and 16,346 families residing in the county. [22] The population density was 166 people per square mile (64/km²). There were 25,920 housing units at an average density of 76 per square mile (29/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.49% White, 1.00% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. 0.89% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 23,486 households out of which 28.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.90% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.40% were non-families. 26.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.00% 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 2.83.

In the county, the population was spread out with 21.40% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 29.00% from 25 to 44, 25.40% from 45 to 64, and 15.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $27,371, and the median income for a family was $33,825. Males had a median income of $26,394 versus $19,687 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,678. About 12.80% of families and 16.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.00% of those under age 18 and 16.00% of those age 65 or over.




Elk Avenue in Elizabethton Elk-Avenue-Elizabethton-tn1.jpg
Elk Avenue in Elizabethton
U.S. 19E in Roan Mountain Roan-Mountain-19E-tn1.jpg
U.S. 19E in Roan Mountain


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


Carter County is a Republican stronghold, and, like most of East Tennessee, has voted consistently Republican since the Civil War. Carter County is even more heavily Republican than many other counties in East Tennessee and has not been won by a Democratic Presidential candidate since before the Civil War. Since then, only one Democrat, southerner Jimmy Carter in 1976 (who also won several traditionally Republican counties in East Tennessee), has received over 40% of the popular vote.

Presidential election results
Presidential Elections Results [23]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 80.2%16,89816.4% 3,4533.5% 733
2012 75.2%15,50323.2% 4,7891.6% 325
2008 72.8%15,85225.7% 5,5871.5% 330
2004 70.7%15,76828.7% 6,3950.7% 150
2000 63.4%12,11135.2% 6,7241.4% 267
1996 57.7%10,54034.0% 6,2188.3% 1,524
1992 55.8%10,71233.9% 6,50210.3% 1,976
1988 71.7%12,03627.6% 4,6340.6% 108
1984 73.4%13,15325.9% 4,6420.8% 138
1980 64.4%11,64833.2% 6,0062.3% 423
1976 54.1%8,93445.1% 7,4430.8% 133
1972 82.2%11,10216.2% 2,1911.6% 221
1968 64.7%9,46714.8% 2,16020.6% 3,009
1964 61.4%8,47238.6% 5,326
1960 77.3%12,21421.6% 3,4121.1% 172
1956 78.8%11,21820.6% 2,9330.6% 85
1952 76.2%9,01922.9% 2,7071.0% 118
1948 70.9%4,94326.0% 1,8093.1% 216
1944 74.3%4,87325.4% 1,6620.3% 21
1940 65.4%4,23833.5% 2,1711.1% 71
1936 72.3%4,85827.3% 1,8370.4% 27
1932 76.3%5,05523.7% 1,574
1928 90.4%4,9349.4% 5120.2% 12
1924 86.3%3,65713.0% 5510.7% 28
1920 90.0%6,05910.0% 674
1916 85.6%2,96114.4% 498
1912 34.1% 1,24313.1% 47852.8%1,926

See also

Related Research Articles

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Elizabethton, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Elizabethton is a city in, and the county seat of Carter County, Tennessee, United States. Elizabethton is the historical site of the first independent American government located west of both the Eastern Continental Divide and the original Thirteen Colonies.

Hunter, Tennessee CDP in Tennessee, United States

Hunter is a census-designated place (CDP) and unincorporated community located northeast of Elizabethton in Carter County, Tennessee, United States, along Tennessee State Route 91 and the Watauga River. Its population was 1,854 as of the 2010 census. It is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region. Hunter is a suburb of Elizabethton.

Roan Mountain, Tennessee CDP in Tennessee, United States

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Cherokee National Forest Forest in the United States

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Watauga River river in the United States of America

The Watauga River is a large stream of western North Carolina and East Tennessee. It is 78.5 miles (126.3 km) long with its headwaters on the slopes of Grandfather Mountain and Peak Mountain in Watauga County, North Carolina.

Doe River river in the United States of America

The Doe River is a tributary of the Watauga River in northeast Tennessee in the United States. The river forms in Carter County near the North Carolina line, just south of Roan Mountain State Park, and flows to Elizabethton.

Nolichucky River watercourse in the United States of America

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Unaka Range mountain in United States of America

The Unaka Range is a mountain range on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. It is a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains and is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains physiographic province. The Unakas stretch approximately from the Nolichucky River to the south to the Watauga River to the north. The Unakas include the prominent Roan Highlands, where several summits rise above 6,000 feet. The Iron Mountains border the Unakas to the north, and the Bald Mountains border the Unakas opposite the Nolichucky to the south. The name unaka is rooted in the Cherokee term unega, meaning "white". Common Lore is that 1 in 4 trees in the Unaka Range were American Chestnut trees prior to the great Chestnut Blight. Chestnuts having long white blossoms, the Unaka Mountains turned white in color during the blossoming of the chestnut trees, and thus were called the White mountains by the local Cherokee.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail park in the United States of America

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVHT) is part of the U.S. National Trails System, and N.C. State Trail System. It recognizes the Revolutionary War Overmountain Men, Patriots from what is now East Tennessee who crossed the Unaka Mountains and then fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.

U.S. Route 19E (US 19E) is a divided highway of US 19 in the U.S. states of North Carolina and Tennessee. The U.S. Highway, which is complemented by US 19W to the west, travels 75.9 miles (122.1 km) from US 19 and US 19W at Cane River, North Carolina, north to US 11E, US 19, and US 19W in Bluff City, Tennessee. US 19E connects Asheville, North Carolina, and Bristol, Tennessee, with Burnsville, Spruce Pine, and Elk Park in North Carolina and Roan Mountain and Elizabethton in Tennessee. US 19E also has an unsigned concurrency with Tennessee State Route 37 (SR 37) for its entire course in Tennessee.

Sycamore Shoals United States historic place

The Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga River, usually shortened to Sycamore Shoals, is a rocky stretch of river rapids along the Watauga River in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Archeological excavations have found Native Americans lived near the shoals since prehistoric times, and Cherokees gathered there. As Europeans began settling the Trans-Appalachian frontier, the shoals proved strategic militarily, as well as shaped the economies of Tennessee and Kentucky. Today, the shoals are protected as a National Historic Landmark and are maintained as part of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

Watauga Lake lake in the United States of America

Watauga Lake, located east of Elizabethton, Tennessee, is the local name of the Watauga Reservoir created by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with the 1948 completion of the TVA Watauga Dam.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area Tennessee state historical park

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area is a state park located in Elizabethton, in the U.S. state of Tennessee. The park consists of 70 acres (28.3 ha) situated along the Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga River, a National Historic Landmark where a series of events critical to the establishment of the states of Tennessee and Kentucky, and the settlement of the Trans-Appalachian frontier in general, took place. Along with the historic shoals, the park includes a visitor center and museum, the reconstructed Fort Watauga, the Carter Mansion and Sabine Hill . For over a thousand years before the arrival of European explorers, Sycamore Shoals and adjacent lands had been inhabited by Native Americans. The first permanent European settlers arrived in 1770, and established the Watauga Association—one of the first written constitutional governments west of the Appalachian Mountains—in 1772. Richard Henderson and Daniel Boone negotiated the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1775, which saw the sale of millions of acres of Cherokee lands in Kentucky and Tennessee and led to the building of the Wilderness Road. During the American Revolution, Sycamore Shoals was both the site of Fort Watauga, where part of a Cherokee invasion was thwarted in 1776, and the mustering ground for the Overmountain Men in 1780.

Hampton, Tennessee Unincorporated community in Tennessee, United States

Hampton is an unincorporated community in Carter County, Tennessee, United States. Located a few miles southeast of Elizabethton and northwest of Roan Mountain, Hampton is surrounded on all sides by the Unaka Mountains. It is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region.

State Route 67 is a state-maintained highway in northeastern Tennessee, including a four-lane divided highway segments in both Washington County and Carter County, and part of a significant two-lane segment passing over the Butler Bridge some 80 feet (24 m) above the TVA Watauga Reservoir near Butler in Johnson County, Tennessee.

State Route 362, also known as Mary Patton Highway and Gap Creek Road, is a 5.7 mile long north-south state highway in Carter County, Tennessee.


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  10. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, et al., "Ambient Air Monitoring Plan," Environmental Protection Agency website, July 1, 2010. Accessed: March 18, 2015.
  11. Aerial image from USGS via Microsoft Research Maps
  12. Morris-Frye, Abby (August 8, 2014). "Round 2: Lunceford tops Mathes for sheriff". Elizabethton Star. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  13. "A Message from the Chief of Police". Archived from the original on May 12, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  14. "Bristol - Johnson City". Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  15. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved July 20, 2018.
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  17. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
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  19. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  20. Based on 2000 census data
  21. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
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  23. Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved March 10, 2018.

Coordinates: 36°18′N82°7′W / 36.300°N 82.117°W / 36.300; -82.117