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Rowan County

Rowan County seal

LAND AREA: 511.37 square miles
White: 80.3%
Black/African American: 16.5%    
American Indian: 0.6%    
Asian: 1.1%    
Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Two or more races: 1.5%
Hispanic/Latino: 8.0% (of any race)

From State & County QuickFacts, US Census Bureau, 2014.

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Rowan County

Bobcat trackWildlife profiles
Piedmont region

Geographic Information

REGION: Piedmont
RIVER BASIN: Yadkin-Pee Dee
NEIGHBORING COUNTIES: Cabarrus, Davidson, Davie, Iredell, Stanly

Rowan County, NC

by Jay Mazzocchi, 2006

Rowan County, located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, was formed in 1753 from Anson County and was named for Matthew Rowan, the governor of North Carolina at the time of the county's establishment. Early inhabitants of the area included the Catawba and Saponi Indians, followed by German and Scotch-Irish settlers. Salisbury, the county seat, was incorporated in 1755 and was named after the cathedral town in England; during much of the nineteenth century, it was the largest city in western North Carolina and served as a major center of trade and politics. Other communities in the county include Spencer, East Spencer, China Grove, Bear Poplar, Mount Ulla, Millbridge, Faith, Craven, and part of Kannapolis, extending up from Cabarrus County. Notable physical features of the county include the Yadkin River, High Rock Lake, Dunn Mountain, and Panther and Beaverdam Creeks.

Catawba College (1851) and Livingstone College (1879) are located in Rowan County, which also is home to several landmarks and historic sites, such as Old Stone House, the county's oldest building, constructed around 1766. This and other sites are run by Rowan Museum, Inc. Other significant landmarks include the Confederate Prison and the Gold Hill Mining District. Cultural institutions in Rowan County include the North Carolina Transportation Museum at Spencer Shops, Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Catawba College's Shuford School of Performing Arts, and the Catawba Community Children's Chorus. The county hosts festivals and annual events such as the Rowan County Agricultural Fair, the National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Hall of Fame Awards, the Old Miners Jubilee, Santa Claus Special, the Rockwell Craft Festival, and Take Pride in Granite Day.

Rowan County produces agricultural goods such as horticultural crops and livestock. Manufactured products include polyester fiber, trucks, textiles, yarn, furnaces, furniture, and mobile homes. The population of Rowan County was estimated to be 133,000 in 2004.


James S. Brawley, Rowan County: A Brief History (1977).

Additional resources:

Rowan County Government:

Rowan County Chamber of Commerce:

DigitalNC, Rowan County:

Image credits:

Rudersdorf, Amy. 2010. "NC County Maps." Government & Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina.

Origin - location: 


I was born and raised at the foot of the Balfour Quarry in 1942 and spent many of my growing up years scouting the quarry on the weekends (it's a wonder I survived) as it was still being mined during the weekday hours. I am 72 years old now and in telling people about the size of the quarry hole back then people think I am exaggerating. Who knows? Maybe this old man remembers it being larger than it was? I was born like I said in a house that was all but at the foot of that quarry back then as an unpainted wood frame house that the quarry itself owned one of three. We lived there until I was 12. This house I was born in was across the street from what eventually became the Charleston family home as they purchased it maybe circa mid 50s ( and restored it as was the home I was born in as I visited that area back when my father passed away in 1979 and was very surprised to see the remodeling that had been accomplished. We moved from that area at that same time and ended up on Old 80 where dad purchased property that is now owned by a Yost family. I have tried unsuccessful to find the depth and width of the Balfour Quarry back in it's hay day in the late 50s/early 60s. Does anyone know those dimensions?

I am a retired lawyer in Salisbury. Years ago I saw an old Rowan county map that showed farm holdings. My grandfather, T. Gray Kenerly, was shown as a property owner in the Woodleaf area of western Rowan. I believe that the map was dated around 1934. I would like to locate this map and obtain a copy. Can you help? Bill Kenerly

Dear William,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share your comment and question.

I am referring you by separate email to Reference Services at the NC Government & Heritage Library.  Reference librarians will contact you shortly to help you with this question.

In the meantime, you may want to check out NC Maps at UNC-Chapel Hill.  The site contains digitized historic maps from collections around the state and you may find a useful map on the site.  Here is the link:

I hope this helps and good luck with your research!

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

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