Sussex County is large, but not the largest in the east

March 18, 2009
Think Sussex County is the largest or one of the largest counties east of the Mississippi River?

If you do, you are not alone. County officials have publicly repeated that statement time and time again over the years.

Well, they are wrong.

Sussex County may be the largest county in Delaware and Maryland at 938 square miles, but it’s a far cry from the largest county east of the mighty Mississippi. In fact, it’s not even in the top 10 or top 20.

Maine alone has six counties much larger than Sussex County, and a quick check of other states finds 22 counties larger than Sussex – and there are probably several more.

The county claiming it is the largest county east of the Mississippi is Aroostook County in northern Maine, covering an amazing 6,672 square miles, which is almost three times more than the size of Delaware and more than six times the size of Sussex County.

Five of Maine’s counties are larger in square mileage than Delaware’s 2,490 square miles.

St. Lawrence County, N.Y., at just over 2,600 square miles, professes on its website to be the largest county east of the Mississippi, but it can’t compete with the hearty folks in Maine.

In relative terms, Sussex is a large county. It’s larger than any county in Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey or Ohio. People who are worried about population influx should consider the plight of the most populous country east of the Mississippi River. Cook County, Ill., with 5.2 million residents, is the second most populous county next to Los Angeles County, Calif.

Smaller than Sussex, Cook County squeezes in more than 5,700 people per square mile. In Sussex, according to the latest Census data, the density is about 190 persons per square mile.

Sussex does have one thing over the largest county east of the Mississippi – people. There may be more moose in Aroostook County, Maine, than people, with a population of just 74,000 – that’s about 11 people per square mile.

At last count, about 184,000 people called Sussex County home.

The following are some counties larger than Sussex: Mecklenburg, N.C., 949 square miles; Pittsylvania, Va., 978; Windsor, Vt., 971; Oconto, Wis., 998; Randolph, W. Va., 1,040; Baraga, Mich., 1,069; Iron, Mich., 1,116; McLean, Ill., 1,184; Berkeley, S.C., 1,230; Worcester, Mass., 1,513; Marathon, Wis., 1,545; Baldwin, Ala., 1,596; Coos, N.H., 1,801; Marquette, Mich., 1,821; Palm Beach, Fla., 1,974; Oxford, Maine, 2,078; Washington, Maine, 2,569; St. Lawrence, N.Y., 2,686; Penobscot, Maine, 3,250; Piscataquis, Maine, 3,780; Somerset, Maine, 3,927; and Aroostook, Maine, 6,672.

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