Sylva, NC

Sylva, situated in Jackson County, is a small town made up of 3.2 square miles.

2018 Best Guide to Sylva, NC

April 14, 2018

The town was incorporated in 1889. The town was named in honor of an early settler who's last name was thought to be "Sylva", but records indicated that it was actually "Selvery".  

Sylva became the county seat of Jackson County in 1913. Sylva's claim to fame is Thomas Edison visiting the town in 1911 and Franklin D. Roosevelt visiting in 1936. Sylva NC is located in the western part of the state of North Carolina, within the Balsam Mountain range (near Great Smoky Mountains) of the southern Appalachians. It is the county seat of Jackson County, found centrally to the county. 

There are about 2,600 people living in Sylva. The town is often referred to as "Sylva-Webster", as a nearby section is the Webster community. Situated just a few minutes from Western Carolina University, Sylva is home to Southwestern Community College and Smoky Mountain High School (Mustangs).  

Incorporated in 1889, Sylva NC rests at a little over 2,000 feet in elevation at grid coordinates Latitude 35.37 North, Longitude 83.22 West. There are 3.2 square miles of land in the town proper. It is a Main Street community with various shops and restaurants. Sylva is conveniently located near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most ancestry for Sylva is of the Irish and English heritage. Though there are some Germany ancestry in the town. 

Most people believe, though it isn't proven, that William D. Sylva, a friend of an early landowner and businessman of the Sylva area (General E. R. Hampton), is where the town gets its name. There has been some dispute from ancestral records, and even his grand-daughter agrees the name isn't spelled correctly. 

Sylva became the seat of Jackson County in 1913 after a vote relinquishing nearby Webster of the honor.

It mostly had to do with the railroad going through Sylva and not Webster.

The courthouse was built in 1913 on a hill overlooking the town on what is known as "Courthouse Hill".

Before the 4-lane highway was built in 1973, Sylva had the honor of being the only incorporated town in America to have a waterfall.

There are four parks in Sylva NC. Poteet, Mark Watson, Bridge, and Bryson Parks.

The neighborhoods include Court House Hill, Downtown, Dills Cove, Sunrise Park, Love's Field (Fairview), Hall Heights, College Hill, Tannery Flats, Dillardtown, Cope Creek, Locust Creek, East Sylva, and Beta.

Do you remember the movie "The Fugitive"? Harrison Ford? Well, parts of the movie was filmed here.

There is a shot of the town as seen from Sylvan Heights after the train wreck.

The infamous train/bus crash at the beginning of the movie was filmed nearby in Dillsboro. The train and bus remnants are still viewable.


The median resident age in Sylva is 33 years. The median estimated household income is about $35,000 making it about $13,000 less than the North Carolina average.

The estimated per capita is about $19,000. The average price for a home in Sylva is about $146,000 (2015) which is $14,000 less than the North Carolina Average. Expect to pay about $750 a month for rent.

The racial makeup of Sylva is 79% White, 5% Black, 4% Two or more races, and 12% other.

85% of the population are high school graduates, with 30% holding a Bachelor's Degree or higher.

31% are married, 11% are divorced, 5% are separated, 10% are widowed, leaving 43% that have never been married.

Towns Nearby

Dillsboro, NC
Webster, NC
Cullowhee, NC
Forest Hills, NC
Cherokee, NC
Maggie Valley, NC
Bryson City, NC
Waynesville, NC

Jackson County

Sylva belongs to Jackson County in the western part of North Carolina. In 1851, Jackson County was formed from parts of Macon and Haywood counties.

The county, named after Andrew Jackson, is part of the Cullowhee, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Jackson County has a population of 40,000 and its largest town Sylva, with a population of 2,600, is the county seat.

Jackson County borders Transylvania, Oconee (South Carolina), Macon, Haywood, and Swain counties.

Jackson County is made up of 495 square miles. 491 of which is land with the remaining 4 as water.


The population of Sylva, NC is about 2,600. The population has been steadily increasing since the 1980's.


The elevation of Sylva, NC is 2,036 feet above sea level.

Zip Code

The zip code for Sylva, NC is 28779.

Area Code

The area code for Sylva, NC is 828.

Politics and Religion

Historically speaking Sylva and Jackson County's voting records vary from election to election, with just over 50% going to Mitt Romney during the 2012 Presidential Election.

Previous elections have varied, with Democrats taking it in 2008 and 1996, while Republicans took the vote in 2012, 2004, and 2000.

As of 2010, 53% of the population are religiously unafiliated (Nones). About 44% are Protestants with Catholics making up around 3%.


The unemployment rate for Sylva is about 5% (2015), making it equal to the state average.

Food services, entertainment, and retail make nearly 50% of the most common industries in the town.

Newspaper & Obituaries

The Sylva Herald is the primary newspaper that covers the Jackson County area.


Sylva Home Page

Appalachian Funeral Home
Quin Theater
Zip Code
Sylva Inn
Blue Ridge Inn
Harris Regional Hospital
Rite Aid
Smoky Mountain High School
Sylva NC Hospital
Sylva NC County
Funeral Homes
Morris Broadband
Sylva NC Webcam
Food Lion
Quin Theatre
Quinn Theatre
Economy Inn
Harris Hospital
High Country Tire
The Hermitage
Snappy Lube
Jackson General Store
Where is Sylva NC
Used Cars
Hair Salons
Sylva Herald
Sylva NC Map
City Lights Bookstore
Sylva NC 28779
Jackson Paper
Cabin Rentals
Smoky Mountain Center
Community Table
Nick and Nates
Bone Shack
Guadalupe Cafe

Town of Sylva NC
Sylva on City Data
Sylva on Wikipedia

Chamber of Commerce