The famous Civil War battle of Fort Fisher, which took place in January 1865, was the largest naval engagement of the entire war.
Rutherford County, located in western North Carolina, has a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, such as the Catawba and Cherokee, who relied on the region's natural resources for sustenance and survival. European explorers and colonists began arriving in the 18th century, bringing with them new ideas and forms of government.

In 1779, Rutherford County was officially established, named after General Griffith Rutherford, a prominent military leader during the American Revolutionary War. In its early years, the county developed a strong agricultural economy, with tobacco, cotton, and corn being major crops. The construction of the Buncombe Turnpike in the early 19th century greatly improved transportation and facilitated trade within the region.

Rutherford County played a significant role in the Civil War, providing soldiers to both the Union and Confederate armies. The Battle of Swannanoa Gap, fought in 1865, was one of the last engagements of the war in western North Carolina and resulted in a Union victory. Following the war, the county experienced a period of economic decline, but the discovery of gold in nearby areas renewed interest in the region and led to a brief gold rush.

In the 20th century, Rutherford County saw a shift from an agricultural to an industrial economy, with the rise of textile manufacturing and other industries. However, the decline of the textile industry in the late 20th century brought about economic challenges for the county. In recent years, Rutherford County has focused on diversifying its economy, promoting tourism, and attracting new businesses, particularly in the healthcare and automotive sectors. Today, Rutherford County continues to evolve with a combination of rich historical heritage and modern opportunities.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Rutherford County, North Carolina.

  • 1787: Rutherford County is formed from parts of Burke County and Buncombe County.
  • 1790: The county's first courthouse is built in the town of Rutherfordton.
  • 1827: The town of Rutherfordton becomes the county seat.
  • 1841: Chimney Rock is purchased by Dr. Lucius B. Morse.
  • 1865: During the Civil War, several skirmishes occur in Rutherford County.
  • 1915: Lake Lure is created with the construction of the dam on the Broad River.
  • 1927: Lake Lure is incorporated as a town.
  • 1930: The Forest City jailbreak occurs, resulting in a shootout and the subsequent capture of the escaped prisoners.
  • 1957: The International Outdoor Drama "The Lost Colony" debuts in Rutherford County.
  • 1999: The movie "The Last of the Mohicans" is filmed in Chimney Rock State Park.
  • 2016: Rutherford County celebrates its 229th anniversary.