Mitchell County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2000, the population was 15,687. Its county seat is Bakersville. Mitchell County was one of the three dry counties in North Carolina, along with Graham and Yancey, but in March, 2009, the Town of Spruce Pine approved beer, wine, and ABC store sales.
The county was formed in 1861 from parts of Burke County, Caldwell County, McDowell County, Watauga County, and Yancey County. It was named for Elisha Mitchell, professor of mathematics, chemistry, geology, and mineralogy at the University of North Carolina from 1818 until his death in 1857. Dr. Mitchell was the first scientist to argue that a nearby peak in the Black Mountains was the highest point east of the Mississippi River. He measured the mountain’s height and climbed and explored it. In 1857 he fell to his death on a waterfall on the side of the mountain. The mountain was subsequently named Mount Mitchell in his honor.