Haywood County, North Carolina, established in 1808, was named for John Haywood, NC’s State Treasurer from 1787 to 1827. Formed from the western portion of Buncombe County, Haywood claims 555 square miles of this stunning mountainous region. Haywood County, NC, population 54,033 (2000 Census), is comprised of 15 townships and several towns. Waynesville and Canton are the largest cities located in Haywood County.
Waynesville, population 9,232, is the Haywood County seat and its largest city. Founded in 1809, this historic city has ties to two significant wars: the Civil War and the American Revolutionary War. The city name honors a former Revolutionary War commander, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.
Waynesville nestles between the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains, just 30 miles southwest of Asheville with Knoxville, TN an hour and a half away. Waynesville and Haywood County are both part of the four-county Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which currently ranks as NC’s 5th largest metro area.
Canton, population 4,029, is Haywood County’s second-largest city. With less than four square miles, this unassuming community maintains a sense of small town ambiance. Canton took its name in honor of Canton, Ohio, which provided the steel for the bridge that spans Pigeon River. Located just 13 miles outside of Asheville, Canton is home to Camp Daniel Boone of the Boy Scouts of America.
Haywood County features a modern transportation system that plays a major role in the economy. Local highways include Interstate 40 and U.S. Highways 19, 23, 74 and 276. In addition, the Murphy Branch of Norfolk Southern Railway runs through Haywood County, affording a link to the remainder of NC and the nation. Canton is home to a small yard of Norfolk Southern, which works directly with Blue Ridge Paper Company.
Haywood County has a burgeoning tourist industry, where the area’s natural splendor provides the majority of the recreation. Fourteen local mountains rise above 6,000 feet in elevation, where camping, cross-country skiing, hiking, and hunting takes place in season. Haywood County’s southern and northeastern corners are home to portions of the Pisgah National Forest, while a section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies in the northwest. The Pigeon River, NC’s sole outflow-only river, originates in Haywood County. Other popular destinations in the area include the Biltmore Estate, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Chimney Rock, Lake Lure, Land of the Waterfalls, Linville Caverns and the North Carolina Arboretum.
Haywood County has great public schools and a small selection of private and parochial schools. Those seeking higher education have several options within a reasonable driving distance; Haywood Community College is the closest facility. Nearby Asheville and its surrounding communities provides additional choices that include Black Mountain College, Mars Hill College, South College and the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Haywood County, North Carolina is home to Cold Mountain, made famous by the Charles Frazier novel and Miramax Film of the same name. This scenic region with its great schools and numerous business opportunities makes Haywood County an enviable place to call home.