On January 3, 1815, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Pike County. Residents named the county in honor of Zebulon Pike, an explorer and the man who discovered Pike's Peak. In the 1830s, upon completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal, the county grew quickly.
Pike County is located in southern Ohio. It is predominantly rural, with one percent of the county's 441 square miles consisting of urban areas. The county seat is Waverly. With a population of 4,433 people, Waverly was the county's largest community in 2000. Unlike many of Ohio's more rural counties, Pike County experienced an increase in population—14.2 percent—between 1990 and 2000, increasing the total number of residents to 27,695 people. The county averages almost sixty-three people per square mile.
Manufacturing businesses are the largest employers in Pike County. Service industries, farming, government positions, and retail businesses fall well behind manufacturing and are virtually tied when compared with each other. In 1999, the per capita income in the county was 18,353 dollars, with 18.2 percent of the people living in poverty.
Most voters in Pike County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have supported Republican Party candidates by small margins at the national level. In local and state elections, at least recently, voters have selected Democratic candidates.
Ohio Governor Robert Lucas ranks among the county's more prominent residents.