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Rutherford County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2000, the population was 62,899. Its county seat is Rutherfordton.

The county was formed in 1779 from the western part of the former Tryon County. It was named for Griffith Rutherford, leader of an expedition against the Cherokee in 1776 and a general in the American Revolutionary War.

In 1791 parts of Rutherford County and Burke County were combined to form Buncombe County. In 1841 parts of Rutherford County and Lincoln County were combined to form Cleveland County. In 1842 additional parts of Rutherford County and Burke County were combined to form McDowell County. Finally, in 1855 parts of Rutherford County and Henderson County were combined to form Polk County.

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