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4 Cities and towns
5 External links
The county was formed in 1779 from the western part of the former Tryon County. It was named for Griffith Rutherford, leader of an expedition against the Cherokee in 1776 and a general in the American Revolutionary War.
In 1791 parts of Rutherford County and Burke County were combined to form Buncombe County. In 1841 parts of Rutherford County and Lincoln County were combined to form Cleveland County. In 1842 additional parts of Rutherford County and Burke County were combined to form McDowell County. Finally, in 1855 parts of Rutherford County and Henderson County were combined to form Polk County.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,466 km² (566 mi²). 1,461 km² (564 mi²) of it is land and 5 km² (2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.31% water.
The county is divided into fourteen townships: Camp Creek, Chimney Rock, Colfax, Cool Spring, Duncans Creek, Gilkey, Golden Valley, Green Hill, High Shoals, Logan Store, Morgan, Rutherfordton, Sulphur Springs, and Union.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 62,899 people, 25,191 households, and 17,935 families residing in the county. The population density is 43/km² (112/mi²). There are 29,535 housing units at an average density of 20/km² (52/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 86.79% White, 11.23% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.67% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. 1.81% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 25,191 households out of which 30.00% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.40% are married couples living together, 11.70% have a female householder with no husband present, and 28.80% are non-families. 25.50% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.10% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.44 and the average family size is 2.90.
In the county the population is spread out with 23.80% under the age of 18, 8.00% from 18 to 24, 27.90% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 16.00% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 93.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $31,122, and the median income for a family is $37,787. Males have a median income of $28,890 versus $21,489 for females. The per capita income for the county is $16,270. 13.90% of the population and 10.40% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 18.30% are under the age of 18 and 13.80% are 65 or older.