Murphy is a land of tall, green mountains, spectacular valleys and lakes with colorful Indian names such as Hiawassee, Chatuge, Nantahala, Fontana, and Santeetlah. Rugged, but peaceful, it’s outdoor country where hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, cycling, and boating are everyday events that are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike.
With the combination of a rich past and a growing future, Murphy sets the pace for life in Cherokee County.
Cherokee County has an estimated population of 26,000. The 100-square-mile county encompasses 300,100 acres, with 92,363 of that US Forest Service Land. The Tusquittee District, with the highest elevation in the county at about 5,149 feet, sits on the corner where Cherokee and Clay counties meet near Tusquittee Bald at Fires Creek. The lowest elevation is listed as 1,170 feet, where Appalachia Lake crosses into Tennessee. Murphy is privileged to have both the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests only minutes away with a variety of hiking trails to fit each individual’s ability and time.
As for the weather here, you can eagerly anticipate the opportunity to enjoy all four seasons. Autumn is marked by the arrival of crisp, clear days when the mountains are truly ablaze with color. The temperature is mild, making walking and hiking an enjoyable recreation. The winters are usually not very cold, but there will be an occasional snowfall to bring out the child in all of us. Spring comes early, with yellow daffodils sometimes popping up through a March snow. Before the spring turns to summer, there’s a couple little cold spells to go through– first, what is known as Dogwood Winter (when the dogwood trees begin blooming) and then comes Blackberry Winter (yes, when blackberry bushes bloom). But summer does come, bringing warm days ideal for swimming and fishing that are often refreshingly cooled by afternoon rains.
The average summer temperature ranges from a high of 75 degrees in the mountains to 85 degrees in the valley areas. Lows during the summer range from 50s in the mountains to 60s in the valley areas. In winter, average high temperature in the mountainous regions is 40 degrees and 50 degrees in the valley area with lows that average between the 20s and 10s.
The town of Murphy was named after Col. Archibald Murphey (“e” was lost somewhere along the way). Murphey was known as one of North Carolina’s earliest advocates of education, with a special concern that the western portion of the state not be forgotten in state politics. He campaigned heavily for the development of the educational systems that would establish two or more primary schools in each county. The town could very well have been named Junaluska. In 1837, locals favored the name Junaluska, in honor of a Cherokee man who fought at the Battle of the Horse Shoe. Instead the governing body of this state deemed that Cherokee’s county seat would be named Murphy.