Durham County: Home to the Bull City
Durham County, North Carolina, is known for many things, including being home to the Bull City that is Durham. The county has seen plenty of history and continues to make history on many fronts thanks to its prominent variety of industries and the top researchers it attracts. As part of the Research Triangle -- the largest research park in The United States -- the county has a strong educational presence and is recognized for the research it produces on the medical and health fields, specifically.
But it's not just the locals that are in love with Durham County. Visitors to the area will find countless things to do, whether they're into art, music, sports, nature or, well, pretty much everything! Durham County only continues to bloom with many across the county looking forward to seeing where the county goes in future years.
History of Durham County
Prior to the arrival of English, Scottish and German settlers, Occaneechi and Eno Indians occupied the land that is now Durham County. In 1881, the county was officially established, with the county seat established in 1869.
The city of Durham itself has a rich history with events that can be traced in many history books. One such event was The Regulator Movement, which lasted from 1766 to 1771, in which citizens took up arms against what they believed to be corrupt colonial officials. Many historians believe this event was an impetus for the American Revolutionary War that followed soon after.
During the antebellum period, some of the largest plantations were established in the area, including Stagville Plantation, home to nearly 1,000 African slaves during its heyday. When the American Civil War eventually occurred in the 1800s, the Bennett Place, located in Durham, became the site of the final surrender by a major Confederate Army, and the largest troop surrender of the American Civil War. The Bennett Place Historic Site remains a local landmark, open for visitors to learn about the history to this day.
Perhaps Durham's most notable piece of history comes down to its tobacco production, the instigator of the city's nickname, "Bull City." Many soldiers enjoyed smoking tobacco in the region during the war, claiming that they couldn't find anything else like it in America. W.T. Blackwell decided to name his Blackwell Tobacco Company's famed product "Bull" Durham Tobacco after what he believed was a bull on an English mustard product he loved. Ironically, he had misunderstood what was actually pictured on the bottle, but the name has stuck well to this day!
Durham County Geography
Durham County covers an area of 298 square miles and is located in the Piedmont region of the U.S., with rolling hills across a flat landscape. The county enjoys more sunny days than the national U.S. average and enjoys less snowfall than other surrounding areas.
The city of Raleigh, in neighboring Wake County, is noticeable for having over 8,000 acres of parkland, 80 miles of greenway and five public lakes. As such, many residents and locals alike enjoy participating in sports or recreational activities in the parks across the four seasons and both counties.
As of 2019, the population of Durham County sat at 320,000. There were 142,000 housing units, with 20% of houses having occupants under 18 years old. The racial mix sits at 54% White, 36% Black, and 10% other races. Nearly 50% of the county's residents had a Bachelor's Degree or higher, a reflection of the county's educational atmosphere.
Durham County Economy
The Research Triangle Park makes up a large portion of the economy of Durham, with approximately three quarters of the land area located in Durham county. The Triangle area, as it's known, is closely connected to the three large research universities of North Carolina State University (Wake County), Duke University (Durham County) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Orange County). More than 200 employers reside in The Research Triangle Park, employing more than 50,000 employees across various industries. In Durham, Duke University and Health System is the largest employer, followed by IBM, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, Fidelity Investments, IQVIA, the City of Durham and others.
Durham County overall attracts individuals across a wide range of industries as the county continues to flourish.
Young or Old, There's Something for Everyone in Durham County!
The center of life in Durham County is Duke University, one of the most well respected universities in the world and home to the Duke Blue Devils. Within Duke's campus are the majestic Duke Chapel and the breathtaking Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
The American Tobacco Campus is a lively part of downtown Durham with an award-winning mix of restaurants, shops, green spaces and entertainment. This one million square foot complex is located in the original Lucky Strike factory and has become a favorite gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Durham County is a county of eclectic options when it comes to its attractions. Art lovers across all mediums will find their match in the various film, music, dance and cultural festivals in the area. The top annual festivals include the Bull Durham Blues Festival, the American Dance Festival and the Tobacco Road Dance. Those wanting to visit museums and art centers instead will fall in love with The Nasher Museum of Art, the Museum of Life and Science, and the Museum of Durham History. The Museum of Durham History often hosts Civil Rights exhibits as the surrounding area had a strong presence throughout this time period in The U.S.
Of course, sports have their place in Durham County. Duke University's basketball team is an American favorite, and games can be watched at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham. The beloved Durham Bulls Minor League baseball team plays games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, a 10,000 seat ballpark in the area. If you are a baseball fan, you won't want to miss a night at the ballpark, whose team was made more famous by the movie Bull Durham, starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.
Of course, the history of the area makes for some great sights for history buffs. Bennett Place, as mentioned above, is the top site for those interested in Civil War history, with visitors having the option to go on an audio tour of the location to learn all about the events that happened there. As Confederate General Joseph Johnston and Union General William Sherman met in Durham county to surrender the Carolinas, Florida, and Georgia armies, the site is a must see. In addition, history buffs can check out West Point On The Eno City Park, both a city park and historical center, once home to a mill that had a prominent presence during the 1800s.
Visitors wanting a small-town feel can check out the nearby towns of Chapel Hill and Morrisville, both bordering Durham County. Chapel Hill was listed among "America's Foodiest Small Towns" by "Bon Appétit" magazine. Here, visitors can enjoy eating at Al's Burger Shack, Foster's Market, Mama's Dip and Lantern Restaurant. All of these restaurants have been recognized for their high quality and delicious eats. Morrisville is the perfect hotspot for visitors with families, with eight parks filled with picnic tables, gazebos, playgrounds, hiking trails, tennis and volleyball courts and even a cricket field.