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Jackson County was founded in 1851 from portions of Haywood and Macon Counties. At the time the county seat was Webster, but in 1913 it was replaced by Sylva. Jackson County was named for Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States from March 4th 1829 to March 4th 1837. Jackson County covers an area of 494 square miles with only 4 square miles being water.

A portion of the Qualla Boundary, which is a tribal reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is located in Jackson County. Portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Nantahala National Forest, both protected areas are located in the county.

Jackson County is no stranger to the film industry as several movies have been filmed in the area. These will include the 1993 action-adventure blockbuster The Fugitive staring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, which was filmed in Dillsboro, the train wreck scene along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, also a scene from the hospital was filmed at the Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva.
In 1972 the popular drama Deliverance was filmed on the backside of downtown and a short driving scene and then in 1996 the comedy My Fellow Americans, which starred Jack Lemmon and James Garner. The novel, “Serena”, written by Ron Rash, features Jackson County.

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