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Catawba County :: Hickory, Newton, Conover, and Lake Norman

Hickory

Hickory is a city located in Catawba County, North Carolina. Hickory has the 162nd largest urban area in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 341,851, making it the 4th largest metropolitan area in North Carolina. The city's population was 37,222 at the 2000 census. The city's 2010 estimated population is 40,010.

History of Hickory, NC

In the 1850s, under a huge Hickory Tree, Henry Robinson built a tavern of logs. The city of "Hickory Tavern" was established in 1863 and the name was eventually changed to "Hickory" in 1873.

The first train operated in the city of "Hickory Tavern" in 1859. The first lot was sold to Henry Link for $45.00 in 1858. His house is now known as "The 1859 Cafe." The community of Hickory was the first for many things in North Carolina including the council-manager form of government it adopted in 1913.

Hickory was also one of the first towns to install electric lights in 1888 and a complete sewage system in 1904.

In 1868, Dr. Jeremiah Ingold, pastor of the German Reformed Grace Charge, established Hickory's first school, the Free Academy.

In 1891, Lenoir-Rhyne University (then Highland Academy) was founded by four Lutheran pastors with 12 initial students.

Hickory is also home to one of the oldest furniture manufacturers in the United States that is still located and operated on the original site. Hickory White, formerly known as Hickory Manufacturing Company, was built in 1911 and has been in continuous operation ever since. During World War II, the factory made ammunition boxes for the U.S. Military instead of furniture.

Hickory was known in the years after World War II for the "Miracle of Hickory." In 1944 the area around Hickory (the Catawba Valley) became the center of one of the worst outbreaks of polio ever recorded. Residents who were then children recall summers of not being allowed to play outside or visit friends for fear of contracting the disease. Since local facilities were inadequate to treat the victims, the citizens of Hickory and the March of Dimes decided to build a hospital to care for the children of the region. From the time the decision was made until equipment, doctors, and patients were in a new facility, took less than 54 hours. Several more buildings were quickly added. A Red Cross official on the scene praised the project "as the most outstanding example of cooperative effort he has ever seen." (Hickory Daily Record, June 30, 1944)



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