In the 1960s, North Carolina was a center of the civil rights movement, with Greensboro being the site of the first sit-in protests in the country.
Graham County, located in western North Carolina, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. The land was initially inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Cherokee people, who used the area for hunting and farming. European settlement began in the late 18th century, with the arrival of pioneers and explorers.

In 1808, Graham County was established and named in honor of William A. Graham, a United States senator from North Carolina. The county experienced slow growth in its early years, with primarily subsistence farming and small-scale industry driving the economy. However, the construction of the Cheoah Dam in the early 20th century brought significant change to the region.

The completion of Cheoah Dam in 1919, as part of a hydroelectric power project, led to the creation of Fontana Lake and the subsequent flooding of several communities, including the town of Judson. The construction of the dam also brought in a large influx of workers and their families. The newly created lake became a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors for fishing, boating, and hiking.

Graham County has a long-standing connection with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as a significant portion of the park resides within its borders. Many residents of Graham County were displaced when the park was established in the 1930s, but the tourism industry that developed around the park brought new economic opportunities. Today, Graham County remains a picturesque destination, known for its natural beauty, outdoor recreational activities, and a rich cultural heritage that blends Native American and Appalachian traditions.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Graham County, North Carolina.

  • 1808 - Graham County is established as an independent county.
  • 1830s-1860s - European settlers begin to move into the area, primarily from Scotland and Ireland.
  • 1861-1865 - Graham County residents participate in the American Civil War, with some joining the Confederate forces.
  • 1872 - Robbinsville is established as the county seat.
  • 1890s - Graham County becomes home to numerous lumber and mining operations, contributing to its economic development.
  • 1915 - Fontana Dam is completed, creating Fontana Lake and providing a source of hydroelectric power.
  • 1941-1945 - Construction begins on Fontana Dam as part of the war effort during World War II.
  • 1942-1943 - The town of Fontana Village is built to house workers on the dam project.
  • 1944 - Fontana Dam is completed, becoming the tallest dam east of the Mississippi River at the time.
  • 1960s-1970s - The development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala National Forest brings increased tourism to Graham County.
  • 1983 - The Appalachian Trail is rerouted through Graham County, boosting outdoor recreation and tourism.
  • 2002 - The Cherokee Indian Reservation, located adjacent to Graham County, expands its boundary.