Avery County North Carolina

About Avery County, North Carolina

Avery County was the 100th and final county established in North Carolina. The formation of the county was completed on February 23, 1911, and was created from parts of Caldwell County, Mitchell County, and Watauga County. It was named for Waightstill Avery, a colonel in the American Revolutionary War and the first Attorney General of North Carolina (1777-1779).

Avery County is often noted for the large amount of Christmas Trees that the county produces.

The county seat was originally in the Town of Elk Park, which was then the largest town in the county, located on the county’s north end, on the Tennessee and North Carolina border. Upon completion of the county’s courthouse in 1912, the seat was moved to the central location of what was then an unincorporated area known as Fields of Toe, for the meadows along the head of the Toe River, in what is now the incorporated Town of Newland. The town was so named for then Lt. Gov. William Newland, an influential Democrat, who helped garner support in the then heavily Democratic legislature in Raleigh, for Avery County, an overwhelmingly pro-Union Republican area.

According to local legend, Elk Park citizens were so upset at the decision to move of the county seat from their town that they refused to give up the official books. The then sheriff, like all county officials, was a Democrat and an interim appointee of the Democratic governor in Raleigh, who would hold office from July 1, 1911, until the next election cycle in late 1912, when the almost all-Republican electorate would undoubtedly vote in all Republicans as local officials. The sheriff was leery of confronting the irate local Elk Park citizens, so his wife baked cookies and had their pastor deliver them as a peace offering. The citizens then cheerfully handed over the books, which were sent to the new offices at the new courthouse in Newland.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 247 square miles of which 246.9 square miles is land and 0.1 square miles is water.

Avery County is extremely rural and mountainous with all of the county’s terrain located within the Appalachian Mountains range and a mean altitude of 3,510 feet. Interestingly, Avery County is the second-highest county east of the Mississippi River behind nearby Haywood County, North Carolina. The highest point in the county is Grassy Ridge Bald, 6,165 feet above sea level. Most of Grandfather Mountain, whose highest point is 5,946 feet at Calloway Peak on the tri-point bordering Watauga and Caldwell Counties, is within Avery County. At 5,526 feet, Beech Mountain (also shared with Watauga County) is the highest incorporated community east of the Mississippi River, while at 3,606 feet Newland is the highest county seat in the Eastern United States.

State and Local Protected Areas

  • Bear Paw State Natural Area
  • Gill State Forest (partial)
  • Grandfather Mountain State Park (partial)
  • Pineola Bog State Natural Area
  • Sugar Mountain Bog State Natural Area
  • Yellow Mountain State Natural Area (partial)

Adjacent Counties

Nationally Protected Areas

Major Bodies of Water

  • Buckeye Creek
  • Cranberry Creek
  • Little Horse Creek
  • Linville River
  • Mill Creek
  • North Harper Creek
  • North Toe River
  • Watauga River

*Avery County was created on February 23, 1911, from Caldwell, Mitchell, and Watauga Counties.

Avery County Historical Museum

The purpose of the Avery County Historical Museum is to collect, preserve and display information, photographs, audio, video, and other artifacts about people, events, and places that make up the history of Avery County, North Carolina, and the surrounding Toe River Valley area. Our intent is to provide information to those seeking to learn more about our rich history or their own local ancestral roots.

The Avery County Bicentennial Commission was created in 1974 by the Avery County Commissioners to carry out the American Revolution Bicentennial objectives of Heritage, Festivals, and Horizons. Since the commission could not restore the oldest building in Avery County located in Cranberry, the Avery County Commissioners provided the Bicentennial Commission with the old Avery County Jail to house artifacts and genealogies and to celebrate those who have served our country from Avery County.

The Avery County Museum is now housed in the original Avery County Jail that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of the founders of the museum, Emma Sloop Fink, Helen Jenkins, Martha Pyatte, Floyd Banner and Gurney Franklin, to name a few, have now become part of the history themselves. Descendants of early Avery County citizens are maintaining and expanding the museum as well as taking on the task of collecting and preserving Avery County’s past.

Museum Grounds

Memorabilia, family histories, books, interesting exhibits, a genealogical research room, the 1912 Avery County Jail, a circa 1780s Smokehouse, the 1917 Linville Depot, and the 1926 ET&WNC RR Caboose #505 are all part of the museum grounds.

Avery County Genealogy

In order to keep the museum growing, we would love to have you share your history through photos, books, artifacts, audio, video, family trees, or even DNA tests.  Each Spring the museum sponsors and hosts the Avery County Heritage Festival where folks with a history that traces back to Avery County can gather to share stories, photos, and artifacts and maybe discover that cousin they never knew they had!!


The Avery County Historical Museum, Linville Depot, and ET&WNC Caboose #505 are staffed by volunteers, starting with the Board of Directors who make policy, raise money and see that the attractions are staffed and open for all to enjoy.

We depend on your annual membership to help with the operation and expansion of our attractions and resources.

Elk Park - Avery County - North Carolina

Visit Us Today

1829 Schultz Circle
Newland, North Carolina 28657

Summer Hours
10:00am – 3:00pm
Monday – Saturday

Winter Hours
10:00am – 3:00pm
Thursday – Saturday

Extraordinary Experiences