About Cleveland County
Formed in 1841 from Rutherford and Lincoln counties, Cleveland was named for Col. Benjamin Cleveland, a leader of the western Carolina frontier. Cleveland is located in the southwestern part of North Carolina, bounded by the state of South Carolina and Burke, Gaston, Lincoln and Rutherford counties. Thirty-six years after it was formed, an act was passed changing the spelling of Cleveland from "Cleaveland County" to "Cleveland County."
In 2000, more than 92,000 people lived in Cleveland County. Like most counties in North Carolina, unemployment is low. Cleveland's jobless rate in 1999 was 4.9 percent. Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is only 74 miles from Charlotte. Shelby, incorporated in 1843, is the county seat. Nicknamed the "City of Pleasant Living," Shelby has been recognized as an All American City by the National Civic League, and earned the National Main Street City of Shelby distinction from The National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The county offers a wealth of educational opportunities. Three school systems, Cleveland County, Kings Mountain District and Shelby City schools, educate students in grades K-12. They can pursue higher education at Cleveland Community College in Shelby, where approximately 2,000 students are enrolled, or Gardner-Webb University.
Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs spans more than 200 acres of rolling landscape that is rich with lawns and trees. The school is affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. In fall 2000, 3,192 students representing 39 states and 30 foreign countries were enrolled. Undergraduate degrees include bachelor of arts, bachelor of science and bachelor of science in nursing. There are currently 19 bachelor of arts degree programs and 22 bachelor of science degree programs. Master's degree students can pursue degrees in education, English, sport science and pedagogy, school counseling, agency counseling, business administration, divinity and nursing.
Cleveland County takes pride in its diverse cultural aspects. Among its many offerings is the Cleveland County Arts Center, located in the historic 1916 Post Office on the square in Uptown Shelby. Managed by the Cleveland County Arts Council, the center offers such programming and services as art exhibits, dramas, art classes, artists' performances and private functions. Each year since 1924, the Cleveland County Fair has drawn visitors from across the state. The brainchild of the Shelby Kiwanis, the event is the largest county fair in the state; more than 100,000 people attend it each year. The fair continues to promote agriculture, education, industry, art, history and other facets of everyday life.
Sites of interest in Cleveland County include Kings Mountain National Military Park, Exit 2 on I-85 in Kings Mountain. The park is the site of Cornwallis' first misstep toward the defeat that marked the end of the Revolutionary War. Exhibits help interpret the military confrontation known as the Battle of Kings Mountain. Crowders Mountain State Park, located between Kings Mountain and Gastonia, boasts rugged peaks and breathtaking views. It's perfect for hiking, picnicking and bird watching.