Heart Of The Blue Ridge Parkway
|Named for||Allegheny Mountains|
|• Total||237 sq mi (610 km2)|
|• Land||235 sq mi (610 km2)|
|• Water||1.5 sq mi (4 km2) 0.6%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||46.3/sq mi (17.9/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Alleghany County (// AL-ig-AY-nee) is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 10,888. Its county seat is Sparta.
The earliest inhabitants of the area eventually comprising Alleghany County were Cherokee and Shawnee Native Americans. By the late 1700s these people had been displaced by English, German, and Scotch-Irish settlers. The county was formed in 1859 from the eastern part of Ashe County. A group of commissioners selected a site near the center of the county to build a courthouse and established the county seat of Sparta. The county was expanded through annexations at the expense of its neighbors from 1869 and 1903. A portion was moved to Wilkes County in 1909.
In 1894, textile executive Hugh Chatham pushed for the founding of a resort in Roaring Gap. It was reorganized in 1925.
The construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the 1930s led to increased tourism and growth in Alleghany County. In 1936, the regional Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation was founded with the support of the Rural Electrification Act, leading to the eventual expansion of electric utility service in Alleghany. In 1944, the county's first major manufacturer—D&P Pipe Works—opened after relocating from Chicago to Sparta to be closer to supplies of local mountain laurel roots which were used during World War II in the production of wooden tobacco pipes. Due to unreliable electricity, the company relied on its own generator for power, but utility service improved after the war.
Alleghany County's economy grew in the 30 years following World War II with the expansion of manufacturing, aided by the improved electricity service and outside companies' desire to locate their facilities in areas with lower land costs, fewer regulations, and less competitive wages. Service-oriented businesses cropped up along U.S. Route 21 to accommodate travelers driving north out of the state. Use of the highway decreased after Interstate 77 was completed in 1975. D&P Pipe Works, later renamed Dr. Grabow, peaked with about 350 employees before health concerns regarding tobacco smoking led to a decline in demand for pipes in the late 20th century. Between 2000 and 2005, the county lost 60 percent of its manufacturing jobs.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 235 square miles (610 km2), of which 235 square miles (610 km2) is land and 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2) (0.6%) is water. It is the fifth-smallest county in North Carolina by total area. Alleghany County is located in northwestern North Carolina. It borders the North Carolina counties of Surry, Wilkes, and Ashe, and the Virginia county of Grayson.
The county is located entirely within the Appalachian Mountains region of western North Carolina. Most of the county is located atop a rolling plateau that ranges from 2,500 to 3,000 feet (760 to 910 m) above sea level. The southern border of the county drops abruptly nearly 1,500 feet (460 m) to the Foothills region of North Carolina. The plateau is crossed by numerous hills and mountains. The highest point in the county is Peach Bottom Mountain - Catherine Knob at 4,175 feet (1,273 m) above sea level. The major rivers of Alleghany County are the New River, and the Little River; the latter flows through the town of Sparta, the county seat.
Isolated by mountainous terrain from the remainder of North Carolina to the east, Alleghany County was described in the 19th and early 20th centuries as one of the Lost Provinces of North Carolina.
Due to its elevation, Alleghany County enjoys slightly cooler summers than the lowland areas to the east and south, with temperatures seldom rising over 90 °F (32 °C). In the winter, however, temperatures can frequently be colder than would be expected in a southern state. Daytime highs can fall into the teens or lower, and snowfall can be extremely heavy at times. According to USClimateData.com, the average temperature is 52.85 °F (11.58 °C).
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||103||0.95%|
|Hispanic or Latino||1,288||11.83%|
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 10,888 people, 4,920 households, and 3,390 families residing in the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,677 people, 4,593 households, and 3,169 families residing in the county. The population density was 46 people per square mile (18 people/km2). There were 6,412 housing units at an average density of 27 units per square mile (10 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.69% White, 1.23% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.75% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 4.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 4,593 households, out of which 24.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% were married couples living together, 7.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.00% were non-families. 27.80% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.75.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 19.40% under the age of 18, 7.40% from 18 to 24, 26.30% from 25 to 44, 27.70% from 45 to 64, and 19.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 97.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $29,244, and the median income for a family was $38,473. Males had a median income of $25,462 versus $18,851 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,691. About 11.30% of families and 17.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.80% of those under age 18 and 25.00% of those age 65 or over.
Alleghany County is led by a five-member board of commissioners elected county-wide in partisan contests to serve staggered four-year terms. The commissioners elect their own chairman, who serves a one-year term. The commission is responsible for overseeing county government, passing ordinances, levying taxes, and creating the county budget. It also appoints the county attorney and the county manager. The county manager serves as the head administrator of the county government.
The county is a member of the regional High Country Council of Governments. The county also has its own Soil and Water Conservation District led by two appointed and three elected board members. It is located entirely in the North Carolina Senate's 47th district, the North Carolina House of Representatives' 93rd district, and North Carolina's 5th congressional district.
Alleghany County lies within the bounds of North Carolina's 34th Prosecutorial District, the 23rd Superior Court District, and the 23rd District Court District.
|Historical presidential election returns|
In the 2022 elections, Republicans won all but one county-wide office.
Alleghany County is one of several North Carolina counties which produces a significant amount of Christmas trees, with an estimated 1.2 million such trees from the county being sold in 2022. Alleghany also produces the most pumpkins among the counties in the state.
Wilkes Community College maintains an academic center in Sparta. According to the 2021 American Community Survey, an estimated 20.4 percent of county residents have attained a bachelor's degree or higher level of education.
Alleghany County is served by a single hospital, Alleghany Memorial Hospital, based in Sparta.
An arts community is centered in Sparta. The town hosts a "Music on Main" series of weekly public concerts for local musicians from June through September every year.
Alleghany County townships are: