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Marion is a small city situated in the state of North Carolina that serves as the county seat of McDowell County. The city was discovered in 1844 and derives its name from the Brigadier General Francis Marion, who was a hero of the American Revolution. Francis Marion earned the name “Swamp Fox”, due to his aptitude for guerrilla warfare.
The Main Street Historic District of Marion has earned a place in the National Register of Historic Places. Though Marion, NC is a small city, it has earned a great name for itself among the towns of North Carolina and has even been listed in the Top 17 Small Cities in North Carolina by Cities Journal. Among a number of competitor cities (including Morganton, Brevard, Lenoir, Valdese, Black Mountain, Hendersonville, Tryon, Blowing Rock and Boone), Marion got a ranking of 10 out of 17.
During the 2010 Census, the population of Marion NC was recorded at 8,075, with a household count of 2,146. This population was divided between 1,283 families. The 5.6 square mile city is a mix of different races, including white, black, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, etc. The male to female ratio is 79.6 to 100, respectively.
The people of Marion earn a decent income with only 17.3% of the population coming in below the poverty line, which accounts for 12.6% of the families. On average, each household has an income of $24,753 per year, while each family has a total average income of $35,463 per year. The difference between the male and female median incomes is notable, with males earning $25,403 and females earning $21,671. Using these statistics, the per capita income can be calculated around $16,569.
The city is located at a medium elevation of 1,400 feet. The weather is quite warm in summer, especially during the summer months of June through August when the average temperature ranges from 80 to 90 degrees. During the winter, however, Marion NC is moderately cold as the average temperature ranges from 30 to 40 degrees. Though rain distribution is pretty constant throughout the year, March is the wettest month with a total precipitation accumulation of 5.59 inches. On average, the annual precipitation is recorded at 54 inches.
Marion, NC was selected to be the county seat of McDowell County on March 14, 1844 by the McDowell County Commissioners, which was when the city was originally built and planned. While Marion was founded in 1844, it wasn’t given a name until 1845, when the Revolutionary War hero, Brigadier General Francis Marion, named it after himself. Interestingly, there is a character in the famous historical fiction film “The Patriot” named Marion.
Over time, Marion NC has been home to a number of great Americans. One such person was Sgt. Daniel Kanipe of the 7th Cavalry. This cavalry participated in the Battle of Little Bighorn and all but two men were massacred. Obviously, Sgt. Daniel Kanipe was one of them. In 2011, a historical marker was placed in front of his former home as a tribute to his life. The house is situated near Lake James, which has been extremely popular for both locals and tourists. This lake served as a set for movies such as The Hunt for Red October and The Last of the Mohicans.
The Joseph McDowell House is another famous attraction in Marion. It was built in 1787 by Joseph McDowell, who helped defeat the British during the Battle of Cowpens. In 1788, McDowell became a member of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention. Later in life, he became a member of the 3rd United States Congress. The Joseph McDowell House is of great importance to the city as it represents both an important part of Marion’s history and American history as well. Due to this, restoration plans have been arranged to preserve this historic monument for future generations. In 2010, this house along with the Catawba River was opened to tourists. The river acts as a link between the Carson House and the Joseph McDowell House, the two most historically significant homes in McDowell County.
Until the late 19th century, Main Street in Marion NC was made up of mostly wooden houses and buildings. There was old building behind the courthouse referred to as “the Ark”. On one fateful Sunday (November 25, 1894), a fire started in this old building, spread to Main Street, and quickly enveloped the entire street. This fire devastated all the wooden buildings, as well as a number of brick buildings. Due to the lack of a public water supply, the townsfolk had to form bucket brigades in order to stop the fire from spreading any further, but they were unable to save Main Street and were forced to watch as the buildings and homes found there were burned to ashes. However, the citizens of Marion were resilient and came together to begin rebuilding their city. The new Marion was larger and stronger than the previous one. It was this resiliency that ensured Marion a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
At the time of this writing, the Mayor of Marion, NC was Scott Schertzer, who was re-elected in November of 2011. Before 2008, when he took his first oath as the Mayor of the city, he had been the “at large” city councilman for nine years. During that time, he also worked in Marion County as an educator for thirteen years. He has served under Mary Ellen Withrow and Sherrod Brown. Mary Ellen Withrow being the Ohio state treasurer at the time, while Sherrod Brown was the Ohio Secretary of State at the time. Mayor Schertzer is a graduate of both Ridgedale High School and the University of Toledo. He belongs to many boards and councils, including the Marion City School Board, the Marion City Schools Digital Academy, the Downtown Marion Advisory Board, the Marion County General Health District Advisory Council, the Marion City/County Emergency Management Agency, and the Marion County Workforce Policy Board. Apart from these, he is also involved in the Heart of Ohio Mentoring Program (formerly Big Brothers/Big Sisters), the Marion County Historical Society, and the “Saturday in the Park” Program. Mayor Schertzer is the father of two girls, Olivia and Sydney.
Apart from the Mayor, the administration of Marion NC includes the Director of Public Safety (Tom Robbins) and the Director of Public Service (Jay Shoup). Both of these men were appointed by Mayor Schertzer. The Department of Social Services aims to help citizens improve their quality of life and prevent vulnerable people from being neglected, abused, or exploited.
The Department of Social Services is a service-driven establishment. For example, one can shop for health insurance from a number of marketplaces established by the “ACA” (The Affordable Care Act). These marketplaces can qualify a household for subsidies, which help one afford the monthly premium for their insurance. Citizens can also apply for cost sharing reductions, premiums, and tax credit subsidies at these health insurance marketplaces. The concept of cost sharing reductions helps reduce the out of pocket expenses that a person incurs from obtaining health insurance. WNC Health Insurance has been helping business, families and individual navigate the confusing waters of healthcare plans since 1994, obtaining the best health insurance quotes for the best quality plans in the State of North Carolina.
Marion, NC is regarded as a small, friendly town situated at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, hence the saying: “Where Main Street Meets the Mountains.” The Blue Ridge Mountains play host to a number of recreation activities, which Marion serves as a gateway to, due to its proximity to Interstate 40. For example, the welcome center for tourists in the area is west of Marion on the US 221 bypass, where there is a small rest area. This area has vending machines and picnic tables, as well as a visitor center to provide tourists with travel advice.
The favorite attraction for Marion NC residents between the 1940s and 1950s was called the Tar Heel League baseball club, called the Marion Marauders. Kelly Jack Swift served as the starting pitcher of this team. He was the best minor league pitcher of the time and the only player to win as many as 30 games in one season (in 1953). There was an article about him in the October 17, 2011 Sports Illustrated magazine. Marion, NC is a community that places great value on its athletes. Apart from Kelly Jack Swift, many other great teams and stars have their roots planted in Marion. Coach Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels was a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in 2007 that was born and raised in Marion. On July 18, 2011, a Carolina Blue plaque located in front of the Marion City Hall was dedicated to Coach Williams. It lists William’s awards and accomplishments, and sites Marion as his birthplace.
Other attractions in Marion, NC are the three large parks located in the city. The Joseph McDowell Greenway (opened in 2010 in honor of Joseph McDowell) runs along the Catawba River. This greenway is filled with picnic tables, benches, and fishing piers. The Joseph McDowell House and Carson House are obviously of great historic importance, but are only open on weekdays. The depot is a place where various community events such as parties, receptions, meetings, and other functions are held. Other beautiful spots around Marion are the Linville Caverns, Lake Tahoma, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Linville Falls. These locations boast a diversity of scenery. The people of Marion also enjoy golfing at a number of golf courses situated just outside town. There are also various campgrounds and two waterparks.
Come for a visit soon, and see why Marion NC lives up to the names “Top Small City” and “Where Main Street Meets the Mountains.”