...For Detailed Info on Jackson
........ It's Heritage ....It's Present
Until the mid 1800s, the ruggedly beautiful land surrounded by the Balsam, Cowee, Blue Ridge, and Great Smoky Mountains was known as the Valley of the Tuckaseegee, part Macon County and part Haywood County. As the population of the area expanded, political leaders determined it was time to form a new county, and the process was begun in 1850. Haywood County parted with all of its land west of the Balsams, and Macon gave up claim to its territory east of the I Cowee Mountains.
At the time, the people of Haywood and Macon counties were divided in their allegiance to two great American leaders: Andrew Jackson, a popular war hero and founder of Jacksonian Democracy, and Daniel Webster, a staunch Whig and champion of the preservation of the Union.
To satisfy both factions, leaders chose Jackson as the name of the new county in honor of "Old Hickory," the seventh president of the United States. The county seat was named Webster in honor of the famed orator, congressman, and senator.
With necessary legislation adopted, boundaries set, and names chosen, political leaders took the first step in establishing a county government on the third Monday of March 1853 in a log cabin erected by pioneer settler Daniel Bryson.
In 1861, Jackson was asked to cede its land in the extreme southern end of the county for the formation of Transylvania County. Ten years later, Jackson gave up another chunk of land in the northwestern end of the county to help form Swain County. That was the final reduction in its land mass.
Shortly after the county government was formed, commissioners began looking for a site for the county seat. The first site considered was the old Love Farm near the present County Home, also known as the "old Fisher place."
The final choice was a hill just west of the Love Farm on the right bank of the Tuckaseegee River. A brick courthouse was erected and was used until the county seat was moved to Sylva in 1913. Judge John W. Ellis, who later became a governor of North Carolina, presided at the first session of court.
A handsome new courthouse was constructed in 1914 on a hillside in Sylva and remained in use until the Jackson County Justice and Administration Building was completed in August 1994.
Extensive restoration work on the courthouse is still being done in 1995. The large, white building with its 107 steps and distinctive dome, is still known as the Jackson County Courthouse, although most courtroom sessions now take place in the new Justice and Administration Center.
Sylva, the county seat of Jackson County, is in the northwestern section of the county. The county's largest town, Sylva provides an ideal mix of city services and conveniences. Most of the county's businesses and industries are in Sylva. Residents of Macon, Swain, and Haywood counties frequently shop there.
Chartered in 1899, Sylva was named the county seat in 1914 by popular vote. The town is governed by a mayor and five-member board of commissioners. Appointed officials are the town clerk\finance officer, chief of police, town attorney, and tax collector\assistant finance officer.
Jackson County Courthouse: Built in 1914, and sporting 107 steps, it is one of the most photographed buildings in Western North Carolina. A monument of a Confederate soldier overlooks a fountain and Sylva's Main Street.
Sylva lies between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Elevations range from 1,850 feet to 6,450 feet. The Nantahala Nabonal Forest covers 28,400 acres of the county. From the Nabonal Wild and Scenic Chattooga River in the south to the forested lands of the Cherokee Indians in the north, Jackson County offers some of the state's most breathtaking natural beauty.
Many people consider the climate of Jackson County ideal. Summer temperatures are warm in the daytime, but nights are cool. Winter temperatures can dip below freezing, but rarely longer than a few days at a time. Snowfall is light to moderate. July is the warmest month with a mean temperature of 73.6. In January, the coldest month, the mean temperature is 40.1. Annual precipitation is 47 inches. Average relative humidity is around 70 percent in the summer and 66 percent in the winter.
Sylva: 2,039 feet
DRIVING DISTANCES FROM JACKSON COUNTY
Asheville.........48 Atlanta...........141 Birmingham, AL ...295 Charleston, SC ...290 Charlotte ........130 Chattanooga, TN...134 Columbia, SC......180 Gatlinburg, TN....45 Greenville, SC....70 Jacksonville, FL..400 Knoxville, TN.....105 Lexington, KY.....265 Memphis, TN.......492 Miami, FL.........735 Nashville, TN.....283 New Orleans, LA...610 Orlando, FL.......540 Raleigh...........285 Spartanburg, SC...90 Tampa, FL.........575
Jackson County has three fine libraries: Jackson County Public
Library on Main Street in Sylva, Hunter Library on the campus of Western Carolina University, and the Learning Resources Center at Southwestern Community College on Webster Road.
The county library offers free movies each week and a children's story hours during the summer. Hunter Library, the largest collection in Western North Carolina, features a comfortable reading section with current international and national newspapers and periodicals. All three facilities house impressive collections and provide a variety of services for the public.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Jackson County's four golf courses offer some of the most scenic and challenging golfing in the Southeast. Sapphire Valley has two courses, one private and one public. Others are Wade Hampton, a private course, and High Hampton Inn, which is open to the public but gives first priority to guests.
Jackson County's Recreation Department provides an organized program of activities for all ages on a year-round basis. Facilities include lighted tennis courts, softball fields, basketball courts, a swimming pool, and playgrounds. Special interests classes are regularly offered.
Spectator sports include Little League and Senior League baseball, Softball League, and high school football, basketball, and baseball.
Western Carolina University, a member of the Southern Conference, fields fourteen intercollegiate teams. Men's sports include football, basketball, baseball, tennis, track and field, cross country, and golf. Women compete in volleyball, basketball, tennis, cross country, and track.
Theater and Music: The Kudzu Players, a community theater group, offers popular plays on a regular schedule, The Department of Speech and Drama at Western Carolina University produces approximately dramas, comedies, and musicals throughout the year at Niggli Theater and Studio Theater on the Cullowhee campus.
Art Exhibits: The Chelsea Gallery and Belk Art Gallery at Western Carolina University offer art exhibits by local, regional, and national artists on a year-round basis. The mountain region is well known for its unique crafts, many of which are on display at locations throughout the county, including the Jackson County Library.
Historical Exhibits: The Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University is a regional museum and educational facility, offering a look at the land, culture, and people of the Appalachian region. A permanent exhibit, Migration of the Scotch-lrish People, charts the settlement of the Scotch-Irish in the coves and mountains of Western North Carolina.
Special Events: A variety of annual events are devoted to the mountain traditions and culture: Mountain Heritage Day at Western
Carolina University, Dillsboro Heritage Festival, Fourth of July Celebration in downtown Sylva, Summer Evenings in Webster, the Dillsboro Merchants Open House and Luminary, plus bazaars, craft shows, and antique shows. Both Sylva and Cashiers sponsor annual Christmas parades. Western Carolina University hosts Madrigal Christmas Dinners each season.
Prominent speakers, authors, poets, and performing artists frequently visit the campuses of Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College to give lectures, readings, concerts, and performances.
Newspapers serving Jackson County include ] The Asheville Citizen-Times (daily), The Sylva Herald (weekly), and The Cashiers Crossroads Chronicle (weekly). Students at Western Carolina University publish the weekly Western Carolinian, which serves students and faculty of the university.
Radio stations are WRGC (680 AM, 1,000 watts) in Sylva and WWCU (90.5 FM, 800 watts) a campus station at Western Carolina University.
Television networks serving the area are ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and the Public Broadcasting Service. Reception may vary, according to location in the county. Cablevision is available in more densely populated areas.
Although one of the fastest growing counties in Western North Carolina, Jackson is not over populated. Its 27,000 residents have varied interests and backgrounds. The population is stable, and the residents are well educated, thrifty, and contribute to the vitality of the county.
Many of Jackson County's residents come from families that have made their homes in the area for generations. Others come from various states and countries to make their home here. Many visitors to the area often return to purchase seasonal homes, boosting the county's population from April through October.
Jackson County has special appeal for older Americans approaching retirement age. County leaders have placed increased emphasis on creating more opportunities for retired residents. A substantial number of young adults resides in the county, taking advantage of the many educational opportunities. The 20 to 29 age group is the largest segment of the population most of the year.
The county's low crime rate and the absence of problems often associated with urban life have attracted many young families to locate here and raise their children. Housing for these diverse population groups has been readily available at a cost much lower than the national average, whether purchasing or renting a home.
1980 1990 % Change 1994
Jackson 26,100 27,000 +3.45% 28,108 North Carolina 5,930,600 6,693,100 +12.86% 7,019,142
Density of Population Persons Per Square Mile
Jackson County 55.0 57.3 North Carolina 137.3 144.0
LAND AREA AND POPULATION DENSITY
Jackson County covers 499 square miles, and, according to the latest available data, has an average density of 54.7 persons per square mile. The state average is 135.7 per square mile.
Business Establishments (1994)
Total Business Locations (Private Sector) ...855 Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Mining, Construction ................................126 Manufacturing ...............................32 Transportation, Communications, and Other Public Utilities.............................24 Wholesale Trade .............................17 Retail Trade.................................250 Finance, Insurance, Real Estate..............77 Business and Repair Services, Personal Services ....................121 Entertainment and Recreation Services........18 Professional and Related Educational Services, Other Professional and Related Services......130
Jackson County has good sites available for industrial Development. Tracts for industrial development are available with water and sewer.
Jackson County property taxes are 53 cents per $100 valuation. The towns of Sylva and Dillsboro have ad valorem taxes within their corporate limits using the county assessment.
Residents of North Carolina must pay state income tax. Filing date is April 15. North Carolina does not allow long term capital gains.
Jackson County has placed a high priority on the development of reliable and safe transportation systems to and from the mountain region. The county has a rural character, and the main arteries for both commercial and private transportation have remained un-congested and efficient. Major urban centers such as Atlanta, Charlotte, and Knoxville are easily accessible.
Jackson County Transit
Jackson County has accessible, affordable transportation a phone call away. Jackson Transit offers daily local routes, including pickups and drop offs in Cullowhee, Webster, Dillsboro, and Sylva. Transportation can be provided to employment and school and for shopping trips and medical appointments. Fares vary according to distance. Out of town transportation to Bryson City, Cherokee, Franklin, Waynesville, and Asheville is by reservation.
With a model highway system extending from the mountains to the coast, North Carolina well deserves its title as "The Good Roads State." The state Department of Transportation maintains 76,000 miles of highway and interstate routes, more than any other state in the nation.
In Jackson County, U.S. 23-74 provides four-lane service to Sylva and the northern sections of the county. U.S. 441, also a four-lane highway, services the southern end of the county. The county's three state highways are N.C. 107 (four lanes from Sylva through Cullowhee and two lanes from Cullowhee to Cashiers and South Carolina), N.C. 116, and N.C. 281, which is partially a gravel road.
U.S. 23-74 provides access to Interstate 40, which is 14 miles east of Jackson County, and to Interstate 26, which is 33 miles east in Buncombe County.
Twin engine aircraft can be accommodated at Jackson County Airport, which has an asphalt runway of 3,200 feet. Commercial airline service is available at Asheville Regional Airport, 60 miles east. Passenger service is provided by US Air, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, American Eagle, and Comair. Daily flights provide connections to all major cities.
Among the freight carriers serving Jackson County are ABF Freight System, Inc.; Atlanta Motor Lines, Inc.; Blue Ridge Trucking Co.; Carolina Freight Carriers Corp.; Estes Express Lines, Inc.; Roadway Express, Inc.; Spartan Express, Inc.; Transus; and United Parcel Service. A regional distribution center in Sylva operated by UPS delivers to many eastern cities, often on an overnight basis.
Southern Railroad services the northern part of Jackson County. Delivery points are in Balsam, Addie, and Sylva. The Great Smoky Mountains Railway is operated out of Dillsboro with freight and passenger service to points west.
Education has a high priority in Jackson County, at both the public school and collegiate levels.
The public school system is administered by a five-member board of education, which is elected by county voters. The board employs a superintendent who administers the schools according to policies adopted by the board.
The county has four elementary schools, one union school, and one high school. Enrollment in the county's public schools for the 1994-95 academic year was 3,452. Budget for the year was $22,437,104. The school system has 450 full-time employees, 230 of whom are teachers. More than half of the county's teachers hold graduate degrees. Expenditure per pupil is $5,043.16. The drop-out rate was 6 percent during 1992-93.
In 1925, two Sylva physicians established the county's first hospital on Court House Hill. They likely were unaware that their small start would one day become the current Harris Regional Hospital.
With funds from the Duke Endowment and support from Col. C. J. Harris, a local resident, the hospital thrived and expanded. Col. Harris was very much interested in seeing that area residents had access to quality health care. In recognition of his generous support, the facility was named the C.J. Harris Hospital and became a private, not-for-profit community-owned health care facility.
The hospital remained at its original site on Court House Hill until a new 50-bed facility was constructed in 1959 at the present site. Funding for the construction came from Hill-Burton funds, donations received in a fund-raising campaign, and through the sale of stock contributed by Col. Harris.
Major expansions in 1970, 1986, and 1994 boosted the hospital from a small 50-bed facility to hospital with 86 acute care beds and 100 long-term beds. As the hospital expanded, so did its service area. While Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Graham counties are the hospital's primary care area, other counties also are represented in a service area that stretches into northern Georgia and includes approximately 150,000 people. More than 50 percent of the hospital's patient load now comes from outside the county.
In 1994, the Mountain Region Cancer Center was established on the hospital grounds in a joint venture with Asheville's Memorial Mission Hospital. A complex of doctor's offices has developed around the hospital in response to the rapid growth.
Services and staff have increased to keep up with the hospital's growth. Harris has a full-time staff of 49 health care professionals working in 22 different specialties.
In recognition of the hospital's expanded service area, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name to Harris Regional Hospital to more truly reflect the hospital's regional status. The trustees also adopted the name of West Care Health Systems in recognition of other medical services offered at the complex. Among the broad range of specialties offered by Harris Regional Hospital are cardiology, dermatology, family medicine, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, internal medicine, urology, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, neurology, pulmonary medicine, and psychiatry. A 24-hour emergency room is staffed by board-certified physicians.
The hospital's medical staff has the diversity and professional talents of hospitals many times its size. Working with a highly trained staff, these specialists provide the finest medical care available.
Harris Regional Hospital is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees composed of community members who volunteer their time and expertise. Paramount among the board's goals are to have a hospital that serves all who need quality care and retains its status as one of the region's most progressive health care facilities. Harris Hospital is one of two in the 280-hospital Sun Health Alliance to receive more than $2 million in grants to pilot a study of how the health care system of the future will operate. Results of the three-year study will be shared across the full hospital membership of Sun Health.