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Surry County North Carolina

Surry County administrative offices are located at 118 Hamby Road, Dobson, NC 27017; phone: 336-401-8201.

Beginnings [1]

The historical development of Surry County has been of a predominantly rural nature. Surry has been the home of individual farms from its inception to present day. Prior to the advent of modern farm machinery and methods of irrigation, most farms were located near the various rivers and streams, not only because of the water supply, but also because of the richer soil located along these waterways. Accompanying the numerous farms and intended to serve them were the rural crossroads communities. Formed around a store, a post office, a mill, a school, a church, or a combination of the above, these communities became centers of rural life, particularly during the nineteenth century. Some are still viable communities, while others remain as little more than a crossroads community.

Political history played its part in directing the physical growth of the county. Between 1770, when Surry County was created from Rowan, and 1789, the county seat was first located in Richmond in present day Forsyth County. During this period, Surry County's jurisdiction covered present day Forsyth, Stokes, and Yadkin counties. In 1789 the county was divided by the formation of Stokes County, leaving Surry with the territory of present-day Surry and Yadkin counties. A year later, Rockford was named the county seat. Until Yadkin County was split from Surry in 1850, Rockford was a bustling trade center, which fed off of the courthouse. After the split, the county seat was moved to Dobson and the bustling development followed. However, with the construction of the railroad thru Surry County, Rockford, which was a stop on the new railroad, experienced a surge in development and population until the railroad decided to no longer stop in Rockford.

Improvements in transportation opened the door for a tremendous amount of development in Surry County. The biggest impact was the arrival of the railroad. Railroads connected Mount Airy and Elkin to bustling communities like Winston-Salem and Greensboro, opening the door for fledging industries by providing adequate transportation to move their goods and services. The building boom in Mount Airy resulted in the emergence of a higher society of living than had been previously seen since settlers first called this area home in the mid-eighteenth century. Before the emergence of the railroad, development in the Elkin area was primarily located on the southern shore of the Yadkin River, in present day Jonesville. However, when the railroad came through Surry, it was placed on the northern shore of the Yadkin. Development followed and Elkin emerged into a town in its own right. Dobson's development followed the placement of the county seat but subsided with the absence of the railroad. The development of the Town of Pilot Mountain, as well as the Shoals, Siloam, Crutchfield, Burch, and Ararat communities, were facilitated by the railroad.

  1. Surry County Planning and Development Department, Land Use Plan 2015,, accessed April. 2012.
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