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Located in the western region of North Carolina, Clay County may be small in size, but it holds an important place in the state's history. Here are seven interesting facts about Clay County's unique past:

1. Once Part of Cherokee Territory: Clay County was originally part of Cherokee territory, and Native American ties can still be seen throughout the area. The first white settlement in the county was established in 1828.

2. Named After Henry Clay: Clay County was named after Henry Clay, a prominent politician during the 19th century. Despite never visiting the area, the county's founders admired Clay's statesmanship and believed that the honor of bearing his name would bring good fortune to their community.

3. Origin of the Nantahala Outdoor Center: The famous Nantahala Outdoor Center, located along the scenic Nantahala River, first opened its doors in 1972 as a simple rafting outpost. Today, it is a premier outdoor destination that attracts thousands of visitors each year.

4. Home of the Appalachian Trail: The Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking trail in the United States, passes through Clay County. Hikers can enjoy stunning views of the southern Appalachian Mountains as they trek through the county's rugged terrain.

5. Once a Major Gold Mining Hub: During the mid-19th century, Clay County was a major hub for gold mining in North Carolina. Today, visitors can still pan for gold in the area's streams and rivers.

6. Birthplace of Football Star Heath Shuler: Clay County is the birthplace of former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler. Shuler was a star football player in high school and college before going on to play for the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints.

7. Home of the John C. Campbell Folk School: The John C. Campbell Folk School, located in Brasstown, is a renowned center for traditional arts and crafts. The school was founded in 1925 with the mission of preserving and promoting traditional Appalachian culture.

Clay County's rich history and diverse cultural offerings make it a fascinating destination for travelers and a beloved home for its residents. Whether visitors come for the outdoor adventure, the arts and crafts, or the chance to learn more about the area's Native American heritage, they are sure to leave with a deep appreciation for all that Clay County has to offer.

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