Marching Through North Carolina: Hickory, North Carolina

(Editor’s Note: Each weekday in March we will be featuring a city in North Carolina in our “Marching Through North Carolina” series aimed at getting to know your state better from the mountains to the coast. In our firm, we serve all of North Carolina and enjoy learning about what makes us the same and different throughout the Tar Heel state. If you have any tidbits or suggestions about a featured city, please leave a comment on that city or town’s blog post.)

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The Facts:
Population: 41,469
County: Catawba County

The History:
In the 1850’s, Henry Robinson built a tavern of logs under a huge hickory tree in present day Catawba County, North Carolina. The spot was know as “Hickory Tavern.” In 1870, Hickory Tavern was established as a town. Three short years later, “Tavern” was dropped from the name and the area was simply known as “Hickory.”

Hickory is a town with some historic firsts. The council-manager type of government selected to run the town was a first in North Carolina. Hickory was also one of the first towns to install electric lights (1888) and develop a complete sewage system (1904).

The growth of Hickory was first helped by the Western North Carolina Railroad which first came through town in the mid 1800’s. This, like many towns of that time, opened up Hickory to more visitors and subsequently more residents. Hickory’s early economy was fueled by textile and furniture. The town’s history in furniture can be attributed to its location near the forests of Western North Carolina. Woodworking savvy also served as a factor in the furniture business as the town’s roots included a wagon building and repair depot. In the mid 1900’s, Hickory was home to over 40 furniture plants.

The history of furniture is still alive in Hickory to this day. Physical evidence of this is the Hickory Furniture Mart, which is a four level shopping outlet for all things and brands of furniture. While the history is still present, newer industries are present to supplement to economy of the town today. Today, Hickory is known for its production of fiber optic cable for use in telecommunications. Naturally, due to its fiber optic output, Hickory has caught the attention of the data industry. For more information on the future of the area and the attraction they are getting from the data industry, please view this video and article from Fox News on the area.

Learn More About Hickory:
Newspaper: Hickory Daily Record
City Website: City of Hickory
Tourism: Hickory, NC Tourism

Blog Information Resources:

  • Hickory History
  • Catawba County: An Introduction
  • City of Hickory: General History