Our Community

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the country to live, work and play. Our competitive cost of living, world-class health care, and unlimited access to some of the country’s top recreational and cultural resources combined with quality schools, a nationally ranked community college, acclaimed restaurants and one of the world’s top craft schools all contribute to the exceptional quality of life that Mitchell County residents enjoy.

Mitchell County is home to the world class industry including BRP, Unimin, Quality Plus, and Quartz Corporation, as well as a growing entrepreneurial community with award winning businesses like BarkHouse and Knife and Fork, making it a great place to build your own business or develop your skills with a world class corporation.

Mitchell County History

Mitchell County has a unique history laced with famous, unique and history making tales of over 150 years. Mitchell County was formed in 1861 from parts of Burke County, Caldwell County, McDowell County, Watauga County and Yancey County. It was named in honor of Elisha Mitchell, professor of mathematics, chemistry, geology and mineralogy at the University of North Carolina from 1818 until his death in 1857.

Since 1868, Bakersville has been the seat of government for Mitchell County. Important before as a trading center and village, during the Civil War and afterward it became the center of politics in Mitchell County and remains so to this day. The movement for the establishment of a new county in 1861 originated in Bakersville, as did the movement to establish the town as the county seat. The town is noted for its history and picturesque beauty. Bakersville offers abundant outdoor recreation, an enjoyable and relaxed lifestyle, a vibrant arts community, a temperate climate and a supportive community.

Little Switzerland was founded in 1910 when Heriot Clarkson and other prominent Charlotteeans organized the Little Switzerland Company, buying 1100 acres atop and around Grassy Mountain and selling lots to individuals for summer cottages. It was the home to Camp As-You-Like It, the first girls camp in western North Carolina, operating from 1914 to 1968. Wildacres, started by author Thomas Dixon with proceeds he received from the motion picture Birth of A Nation, is located nearby. It is now owned by the Blumenthal Foundation, who purchased the property after Dixon lost it in the Great Depression. They operate it to the betterment of humankind, hosting retreats and other events throughout the year.

Spruce Pine was originally incorporated in 1907 and then again in 1913. Due to its proximity to the railroad and central location to area mines, it rapidly grew to be the largest town in the Toe River Valley. The Spruce Pine Mining District is one of the richest deposits of gems and minerals in the world. Spruce Pine was home to the Carolina Barn Dance, a national radio program that originated from the Carolina Theatre on Lower Street for seven years in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. The program featured local talent and major country and bluegrass artists. The arts and crafts movement grew in the area and continues today due in large part to Lucy Morgan who over 80 years ago started the Penland Weavers at Penland School of Craft.

Demographics

Quick Facts about Mitchell County Demographics:

  • Population Estimate: 15,294 people
  • Land Area: 220 sq. miles
  • Median Value of Owner-Occupied Housing Units,2011 $111,100

For more in-depth information, check out our Economic Profile.