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Profile - About Catawba County, North Carolina
Catawba County, North Carolina, is located in the western part of the State in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was established on December 12, 1842 and, on January 8, 1845, Newton was selected as the County seat. It was one of the first counties of the 100 counties in North Carolina to adopt the county manager form of government (March 1, 1937). The Board of Commissioners has five members elected on an at-large basis to staggered four year terms.
The cities and towns in Catawba County are Brookford, Catawba, Claremont, Conover, Hickory, Long View, Maiden, Newton.
There are 43 public schools in the County with just over 24,000 students. It has two colleges: Lenoir-Rhyne College, a liberal arts institution founded in 1891 and Catawba Valley Community College, a member of the NC Community College System. CVCC offers a variety of educational opportunities including one- and two-year vocational programs, a two-year college transfer program and continuing education programs.
A major medical area, the County boasts two outstanding hospitals (one County-owned), a large medical community, and nursing and rest homes.
The County, Chamber of Commerce and cities have worked together to attract new business and industry. These included the establishment of the Industrial Development Commission (which in 1993 was merged with the Hickory Office of Business Development and renamed the Economic Development Corporation), expansion of water and sewer lines, road and highway improvements, enhancements to public education, and much more. Another major milestone was the completion of Interstate 40 in the mid 1970s which expanded economic development. In 1980, the voters approved mixed drink sales in Conover and Hickory, which spurred hotel, motel, restaurant, and entertainment growth in the County.
The final portion of US Highway 321 was dedicated on December 7, 1998, cutting at least 10 minutes off the drive to Charlotte and ushering in a new life for rural southern Catawba County. The $45 million dollar highway is expected to bring commercial and industrial growth.
in the Catawba County Area
The Ensure Classic at Rock Barn, which began in 2003 on the PGA Tour's Champions Tour schedule, brings the legends of golf to the Rock Barn Golf and Spa's Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course in Conover. For one week, more than 80 Champions Tour pros take part in practice rounds, pro-ams and official competition. Live coverage on The Golf Channel brings the action to millions of viewers across the country.
Motor Car Racing - the Hickory Motor Speedway has been in continuous operation for 42 years. It is the "birthplace" of America's racing stars--Junior Johnson, Ned Jarrett, Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Issac, Morgan Shepherd, Tommy Houston, Harry Gant, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett, and Jack Ingram. The Hickory Motor Speedway generates some $2.5 million each year into the local economy.
Fishing Tournaments - Bass tournaments are held from March through October on Lake Hickory and Lake Norman. The lakes are famous for Large Mouth and White Bass. Striped bass weighing 40 pounds have been pulled from the lakes.
Minor League Baseball returned to Catawba County in 1993. The "Crawdads" and L. P. Frans Stadium in Winkler Park led the South Atlantic League in attendance during its first year of play. The team is a Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and won the South Atlantic League championship in 2002.
Catawba County was home to the Newton-Conover Twins, a member of the Tarheel League from 1938-1939, and (following a stoppage of play for World War II) from 1948 until 1951. The Twins were reorganized and took the field again from 1960 until 1962.
The 29th National Football League (NFL) Team plays in Charlotte, approximately 60 miles (37.2 kilometers) from Catawba County. Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte opened and the Carolina Panthers began play in the 1995 season, and then later played in the 2004 Super Bowl.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) returned to Charlotte in the fall of 2004 when the Charlotte Bobcats began play.
Improvements to NC Highway 16 from the Newton-Conover area to Charlotte and the improvements to US Highway 321 now place Charlotte less than an hour away.
Catawban County residents Bryan Harvey and Bob Patterson both started as major league baseball pitchers in the late 1990s. Harvey's sons, Kris and Hunter, both played in the minor leagues. Hunter Harvey was the top draft pick for the Baltimore Orioles in 2013.
Ryan Succop, who played football for Hickory High School, has had a successful career as a kicker in the National Football League, first with the Kansas City Chiefs and then with the Tennessee Titans beginning in 2015. Another Hickory High graduate, Austin Johnson has played with the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints. Bandy High graduate Justin Harper also played for the Ravens.
Prehistoric and historic Indian artifacts are also indicative of Catawba County--pottery, carvings, pipes, arrowheads, tools, etc.--become unearthed periodically during building excavations and farming activities. In the mid-1950s, for example, supermarket construction workers found Indian artifacts that have been determined to be prehistoric. This site is approximately six miles from the Government Center.
Mid-1800s Catawba County saltglazed pottery is a collector's item. The Catawba Indians used this type of clay before the settlers came, and they passed this knowledge on to the settlers.
Woodwright Eddie Hamrick and Potter Burlon Craig are nationally renowned. Both have works displayed in the Smithsonian and in the homes of U.S. Presidents.
The Hickory Museum of Art is the second oldest museum in North Carolina, and is known for its concentration of American art (19th and 20th century).
The Trojan Band of Bandys High School, one of seven high schools in Catawba County, represented North Carolina in the January 20, 1993, Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington DC.
Jon Reep, a native of the Mountain View area, won the national competition known as "Last Comic Standing" in 2007, which became a springboard for him to build a national reputation as a comedian.
Catawba County's scenic beauty has been used on two occasions for major motion pictures.
Events in Our History
In the 1940's Catawba County was recognized nationally for the courage of its people in conquering a polio epidemic. In 55 working hours people joined together to turn a youth camp into a hospital.
After the Civil War Catawba County began an annual event to honor its military--the Old Soldiers Reunion. It has evolved into a large festival held the third week of August, and is the oldest continuing patriotic celebration in the United States.
The Catawba County Seal was designed by Pearl (Mrs. Loy) Setzer Deal of Hickory, and officially adopted by the Board of Commissioners on September 7, 1925. The Shield is divided into four parts, representing the national colors of red, white, and blue, with the fourth color of royal purple representing the blending of the national red and blue into royal purple. The county through the royal purple stands by the national colors.
The four emblems are the cross in the field of red to represent religion, which was established with the earliest settlers; the torch in the field of white representing education, which was established along with the church in the earliest days; the cow in the royal purple, representing the farming upon which the county has always depended and the dairying which made the county famous far and wide; and the wheel in the field of blue to represent the manufacturing here in the county.
In 1992 Catawba County celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary. The Sesquicentennial Planning Committee adopted the County's theme, "Keeping the Spirit Alive Since 1842!" In conjunction with this celebration, the County held a flag designing contest which was won by Rosemarie Hefner. The new design was made official by the Board of Commisioners and the first copies of the flag were made by Maxine Weeks of the Catawba Flag and Pole Company. The flag was raised on January 26, 1992 during a special ceremony at the Government Center in Newton.
Catawba County's history is a history of spirited people. With a spirit of rebellion Catawbans split with Lincoln County; a spirited people united and fought a major polio epidemic in the 1940's; an entrepreneurial spirit built a thriving economy; a patriotic spirit resulted in the oldest continuing patriotic celebration in the US--the annual Soldier's Reunion in Newton; an artistic spirit is reflected in our furniture artisans, music, quilting, pottery, etc.