During the Civil War, North Carolina was the second to last state to secede from the Union, doing so on May 20, 1861, and sending more soldiers to fight for the Confederacy than any other state.
Watauga County, located in the western part of North Carolina, has a rich and diverse history dating back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Cherokee and Catawba, who lived off the land and established a number of settlements along the Watauga River.

European settlers began to arrive in the late 1700s, with the Watauga Association established in 1772 as one of the first attempts at self-government west of the Appalachian Mountains. The area saw significant political and social change during this time, and the Watauga Association is considered a precursor to the state of Tennessee. The county itself was officially formed in 1849, named after the Watauga River, and became the 99th county in North Carolina.

Watauga County played a crucial role during the American Civil War, with many of its residents supporting the Union cause. Confederate and Union forces clashed in the area, and the county was occupied by both sides at various points during the war. The conflicts and struggles in Watauga County reflect the larger divisions and tensions in the country during this time.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Watauga County experienced growth and development. It became a popular summer retreat for families seeking relief from the heat of the lowlands. The establishment of Appalachian State Normal School (now Appalachian State University) in 1899 gave the county an educational and cultural center that continues to thrive today. The county has since grown into a thriving community that celebrates its rich history while embracing the opportunities of the present.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Watauga County, North Carolina.

  • 1771 - The area that would later become Watauga County is settled by pioneers from Virginia and Pennsylvania.
  • 1849 - Watauga County is officially established as a county in North Carolina.
  • 1850s - The county experiences rapid growth in population and economy as new industries, such as logging and mining, thrive.
  • 1861-1865 - Watauga County residents actively participate in the American Civil War, with many joining the Confederate Army.
  • 1879 - The town of Boone is incorporated, serving as the county seat of Watauga County.
  • 1899 - The Appalachian Training School, which would later become Appalachian State University, is founded in Boone.
  • 1940s-1950s - The county experiences an economic decline as industries like logging and mining decline.
  • 1970s - Tourism becomes a significant industry in Watauga County, with visitors attracted to its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
  • 2003 - The Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic road that runs through Watauga County, is designated as an All-American Road.
  • 2010 - The population of Watauga County reaches over 50,000, reflecting continued growth and development in the area.