Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on February 27, 2024.
You know there are plenty of interesting facts about Boone to share, considering this one of the most popular places to visit in the High Country of North Carolina. Beyond its status today as a four-season destination and a fun college town, Boone possesses an interesting and unique history.
Our guide covers Boone‘s background, along with some interesting stats and geographical tidbits. While you may already know some of these fun facts, we know there will be at least one that you didn’t already.
We couldn’t have gathered so many facts about Boone North Carolina without the help from the following sources:
- Digital Watauga Project
- Documenting the American South
- Junaluska Heritage Association
- North Carolina History Project
- Remembering Boone (Images of America): Purchase at Your Local Bookstore or via Bookshop
- The Watauga Democrat
We have a lot of interesting facts about Boone that you should know, so we’ve broken it up into the following sections:
- Facts about Boone
- The History of Boone
- Things to Do in Boone (and Nearby)
- More Facts About Boone’s North Carolina Neighbor
Facts About Boone (Stats and Geography)
The first set of facts about Boone is for any fellow stats and geography nerds out there!
- The Town of Boone is the county seat of Watauga County in Western North Carolina, United States
- Boone sits at an elevation of 3,333 feet and is almost completely surrounded by mountains.
- Appalachian State University is located in Boone.
- You’ll likely meet many Mountaineers throughout North Carolina, but many people come back to town after graduating. This phenomenon is known as the “Boonerang” effect.
- While Boone is tucked away in the state’s northwestern corner, it’s within a short drive of multiple big cities, including:
- The closest prominent towns to Boone are Blowing Rock (15 minutes away) and Banner Elk (30 minutes away).
- According to the 2020 US Census, Boone has a population of 19,092.
- The student population of Appalachian State University was recorded as more than 20,000 in 2020, surpassing the town’s population count.
Read More: The NC Tripping North Carolina Travel Map
The History of Boone
The next section of facts about Boone is a deep dive into the town’s history, even before it was known as “Boone.”
- Prior to European settlement, Cherokee and Watauga people lived in the Boone area and its surroundings.
- The first non-indigenous people to visit the area were trappers, hunters, and traders who passed through in the mid-1700s.
- Daniel Boone is one of them, who’s believed to visit the area while hunting in 1760.
- Benjamin Howard was one of Boone’s first known settlers. He farmed the area and kept a cabin here, which Daniel Boone is believed to have stayed while hunting.
- During the Revolutionary War, Howard—a loyalist—supposedly hid in a cave on Howard’s Knob.
- By the 1820s, the area on and around today’s King Street was known as “Councill’s Store.” It was named for Jordan Councill Jr.’s general store and post office.
- Watauga County was created in 1849 from parts of the following counties:
- Ashe County
- Caldwell County
- Wilkes County
- Yancey County
- The name “Watauga” was a tribute to the Indian tribe and the river that runs through the area.
- Watauga was one of three counties (including Ashe and Alleghany) that were referred to as the Lost Provinces. This is because of the difficulty to reach these areas and their separation from neighboring counties by the Eastern Continental Divide.
Becoming Boone and the Civil War
- In 1850, the town’s name was changed to “Boone” in honor of the pioneer, who was believed to have hunted in the area.
- The town built a courthouse in 1851, where the Frank A. Linney House stands today.
- In 1857, Ellington Cuzzins bought one acre of land and settled in Boone. He and Johnson Cuzzins are the earliest recorded free men of color who lived in the Junaluska Community of Boone.
The Civil War in Boone
- On March 28, 1865, Union General Stoneman and his cavalry charged into Boone, killing two local residents and capturing nearly 70 men in the area.
- Stoneman occupied the house of James W. Councill during the “Battle of Boone” before moving on to other parts of Western North Carolina. Stoneman’s Raid was the last cavalry charge of the Civil War.
- Union Colonel George Kirk arrived in Boone on April 5, 1865, establishing his headquarters in the Councill home.
- Kirk oversaw the fortification of Boone and neighboring areas.
- Many of Kirk’s men (Kirk’s Raiders) were from the area and used this time to seek out revenge for the home guard that had hunted them. Looting and “requisitioning” by Union soldiers were common during the Civil War’s final days.
Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina
Post-Civil War Facts About Boone
- Following the Civil War, a group of formerly enslaved Black residents began settling in the Junaluska Community, boosting its population.
- On January 23, 1872, the Town of Boone was incorporated.
- For much of the 19th century and early 20th century, Boone’s primary industries were timber and mining, and agrarian life dominated the area.
- Blanford Barnard and Dauphin Disco Dougherty established a small teachers’ school known as Watauga Academy in 1899. Today, it’s known as Appalachian State University but it underwent a few name and status changes beforehand.
20th-Century Facts About Boone (Before WWII)
The 20th century in Boone can easily be divided into two sections—before and after World War II.
- In 1903, the North Carolina General Assembly granted the Dougherty brothers a charter for Watauga Academy, renaming it Appalachian Training School for Teachers.
- Dr. John Walter Jones and his wife Mattie Blackburn Jones moved into their newly built house in 1908. The Joneses and their descendants owned the house until 1983 when it was sold to the Town of Boone. To honor the family’s wishes, the Jones House serves as a cultural and community center.
- Electricity arrived in 1915, thanks to the newly established New River Light and Power Company.
- The East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad (aka Tweetsie) was extended to Boone in 1918. Also known as the Linville River Railway, this was a major development, bringing passengers, freight, and building materials to Boone.
- Some familiar sights in Boone today were constructed after the railway arrived, part of the “Watch Boone Grow” campaign. The home of Mast General Store (630 W King St) was originally the site of a bank, dentist, lumber merchant, and telephone exchange and was known as the J. Walter Jones block.
- In 1923, Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson was born in nearby Deep Gap. During early childhood, an eye infection resulted in his loss of eyesight. Undeterred, Doc would go on to become one of the world’s most influential folk musicians. Since 2011, the Town of Boone and the Jones House typically celebrate Doc Watson Day on the third Friday of June. In 2022, it will be celebrated in August.
- The State Legislature changed the local training school’s name to Appalachian State Normal School.
Post-World War II Facts About Boone
The post-World War II period was largely a period of tourism boom for Boone and its surroundings.
- The Blue Ridge Parkway was nowhere near complete but started its reign as the most visited National Parks site in 1946. Many of the people who drove the scenic road stopped in Boone for food and lodging. As a result, multiple roadside motels and tourist courts popped up in Boone.
- Boone native Palmer Blair opened a photography studio in 1947 with his wife Sarah Lynn Rives Blair. Between 1947 and 1957, Mr. Blair prolifically documented events, people, and places through his photos. His “Workers of Boone” series of photographs captured working-class people in an era when wealthy men and their businesses dominated the news cycle. Sadly, Palmer Blair tragically died in a plane crash in 1957.
- Grady C. Jackson was born in nearby Elk Park in 1947. He provided a valuable series of photographs covering the Junaluska Community during the 1970s.
- Appalachian State added a graduate college in 1948.
- In July 1949, the Watauga Centennial Parade rode through King Street in Boone.
- Kermit Hunter was recruited by the Southern Appalachian Historical Association and wrote Horn in the West, which debuted in 1952. The outdoor drama played at the Daniel Boone Amphitheatre, on donated land that would eventually include the Daniel Boone Native Gardens. It continues to reach crowds each summer, from July through mid-August.
- Tweetsie Railroad opened in 1957 between Blowing Rock and Boone. The popular attraction employs many App State students throughout the year.
- In 1959, the Daniel Boone Inn Restaurant opened in the former Watauga Hospital and the Dr. R.K. Bingham home. It remains one of the most popular restaurants in Boone.
- Appalachian Ski Mountain between downtown Blowing Rock and Boone was constructed in the 1960s and was followed by Beech Mountain Resort (home of the Land of Oz and more things to do) and Sugar Mountain Resort near Banner Elk. The three are among the best places to ski in North Carolina.
- By 1966, all but 7.5 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway were completed through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The rest required building on Grandfather Mountain, which took about 20 more years to complete.
- Appalachian State Teachers College became Appalachian State University in 1967. Enrollment numbers boomed and the school joined the University of North Carolina system a few years later.
- The Watauga County Farmers’ Market began operating in 1974.
- Mast General Store came to Boone when Chairman John Cooper and his wife Faye purchased and renovated the former Hunt’s Department Store in 1987.
- Speaking of 1987, that’s when the Blue Ridge Parkway was completed, with the dedication of the Linn Cove Viaduct.
21st Century Facts About Boone
Throughout the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st century, Boone and Appalachian State University have undergone continued development, sometimes a contentious issue for locals and students alike.
- The Coopers of Mast General Store helped revive the Appalachian Theatre, which closed in 2007. The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country now owns the building, which reopened in 2019.
- In 2011, the Junaluska Heritage Association was founded to keep records and preserve the history of the Junaluska Community.
- Appalachian Mountain Brewery (163 Boone Creek Dr) opened in 2013 and has been joined by two more breweries in Boone. They include Lost Province (130 N Depot St) and Booneshine (465 Industrial Park Dr).
- Boone celebrated the 150th anniversary of its incorporation in 2022, with the first-ever Boonerang Music and Arts Festival. This June 2022 event was a huge success, prompting calls (from us) for at least one more year!
We’re excited to see this wonderful mountain town shine as one of the brightest spots in Western North Carolina. It’s typically one of the first places we go for hiking, use as a base for Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mountain, visit Elk Knob State Park, search for local beer and food, and much more.
Until we return for more adventures, do you have any facts about Boone North Carolina to share with us? We’d love to hear about them and compare notes!
Feel free to let us know in the comments, by email, or in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!
Things to Do in Boone (and Nearby)
More Facts About Boone’s North Carolina Neighbors
We’ve also created guides similar to this “Facts About Boone” post. Here are a few of them.