Chatham County Overview

VCamera.gif Fearrington, NC

Chatham County’s population and economic base have changed substantially during its history. Chatham County has seen a dramatic increase in population due to residential growth in the eastern part of the county near Chapel Hill, Durham and Cary. Also, there has been surge in Hispanic/Latino residents, especially in the western part of the county. Like  most counties, our population is getting older, but continue to get an influx of young people as well.

Chatham was formed in 1771 from Orange. The act became effective April 1, 1771. It was named in honor of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham who was a most eloquent defender of the American cause in the English Parliament during the Revolution. The present land area is 682.85 square miles and the 2000 population was 49,329. In 1787 Pittsboro was made the county seat.


  • Siler City still has an operating stockyard auction house.
  • The nation’s leading bicycle mail order and retail company, Performance Bicycles, is located in Chatham County.
  • The county has several traditional artists tours, including the Tour de Moncure (held in partnership with Moore County) and the Annual Studio Tour.
  • The county generally ranks between fifteenth and seventeenth in the state in terms of land size, depending on the source of information.
  • The Carnivore Preservation Trust, located just east of Pittsboro, houses several wild animals, but it has the largest captive population of Asian bearcats in the nation.
  • Chatham County has one of only two  Five-Diamond rated hotel and restaurant (ratings by AAA) in the entire state--The Fearrington House Inn and Restaurant.
  • Piedmont Biofuels Cooperative in Pittsboro has been recognized nationally for its innovative approach to producing alternative fuels from renewable resources.