Macon County


Located along the Georgia border, Macon was formed in 1828 from Haywood County. The county gets its name from the fifth Speaker of the U.S. House, Nathaniel Macon, who was born in Warren Co. and served in both the U.S. House and Senate from 1791-1828.

The Cherokee were early inhabitants of Macon until 1819 when the Cherokee signed the Treaty of Washington. The county seat of Franklin was developed around the Nikwasi mound, believed to date back to 1000 AD, and of significant ceremonial importance to the Cherokee. Franklin was named after Jesse Franklin, a county commissioner who surveyed for the site in 1820 and would later go on to be NC’s 20th governor.

Neighboring Jackson, Macon makes up the other half of the region often referred to as the “Aspen of the East,” the Highlands-Cashiers plateau. With an elevation of 4,118, Highlands is one of the highest towns East of the Mississippi. The county is home to a number of waterfalls, the highest of which, Cullasaja Falls, is estimated to be between 200-250 ft. Some of the county’s waterfalls are only accessible by car and can be observed along the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, which runs from Highlands to Almond, NC in Swain County.

Like Jackson County, Macon’s economy is heavily sustained by tourists who flock to the region for its picturesque landscape and natural attractions, as well as its offerings of luxury mountain resorts and award-winning restaurants. Of the natural attractions, Macon is unique for its abundance of minerals and gemstones. Known as the “gem capital of the world,” Franklin hosts the Gemboree Festival annually in late July.

Macon has managed to preserve a great deal of their history and artifacts, which date back to 10,000 BC. The artifacts are housed in the Macon County Historical Museum in Franklin. The county seat is also home to another museum, the Scottish Tartan Museum, which is the only one of it’s kind and has more than 600 tartan displays that date back to 1725.

Politically, the county solidly favors the GOP, with statewide Republicans receiving more than 60% of the vote.


County Seat: Franklin
Biggest Cities:
  • Franklin
  • Highlands
Media Market: Greenville, SC/Asheville, NC

Elected Officials

County Data