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Alleghany County, Virginia facts for kids

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Alleghany County
Alleghany County
The Alleghany Courthouse in Covington.
The Alleghany Courthouse in Covington.
Official seal of Alleghany County
Map of Virginia highlighting Alleghany County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Virginia
Founded 1822
Named for Alleghany Mountains
Seat Covington
Largest town Clifton Forge
 • Total 449 sq mi (1,160 km2)
 • Land 445 sq mi (1,150 km2)
 • Water 3.3 sq mi (9 km2)  0.7%
 • Total 15,223
 • Density 33.90/sq mi (13.090/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 9th

Alleghany County is an American county located on the far western edge of Commonwealth of Virginia. It is bordered by the Allegheny Mountains, from which the county derives its name, and it is the northernmost part of the Roanoke Region. The county seat is Covington. As of the 2020 census, the population was 15,223.

The county was created in 1822 from parts of Botetourt County, Bath County, and Monroe County (now in West Virginia). At the time, the majority of the population lived around Covington, and the primary cash crop then was hemp, which was used for rope production.


Alleghany County was established on January 5, 1822 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly. The new county was formed from parts of Botetourt, Bath, and Monroe (now West Virginia) counties, with most of the population centered in the new county seat in Covington. Alleghany County was named for the Allegheny Mountains, which border the western edge of the County.

When the county was established, the principal export was hemp, used for rope production in Richmond. However, as hemp demand and prices declined, the farmers of Alleghany switched to grain, hay and livestock production.

During the American Civil War, the iron for the CSS Virginia (Merrimac) came from Longdale Furnace in the county. Regiments from Alleghany County were at the surrender at Appomattox.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 449 square miles (1,160 km2), of which 445 square miles (1,150 km2) is land and 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2) (0.7%) is water.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

  • George Washington National Forest (part)
  • United States National Radio Quiet Zone (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 2,816
1840 2,749 −2.4%
1850 3,515 27.9%
1860 6,765 92.5%
1870 3,674 −45.7%
1880 5,586 52.0%
1890 9,283 66.2%
1900 16,330 75.9%
1910 14,173 −13.2%
1920 15,332 8.2%
1930 20,188 31.7%
1940 22,688 12.4%
1950 23,139 2.0%
1960 12,128 −47.6%
1970 12,461 2.7%
1980 14,333 15.0%
1990 13,176 −8.1%
2000 12,926 −1.9%
2010 16,250 25.7%
2020 15,223 −6.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 12,926 people, 5,149 households, and 3,866 families residing in the county. The population density was 29 people per square mile (11/km2). There were 5,812 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile (5/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.35% White, 2.45% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 0.53% from two or more races. 0.36% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 42.9% were of American, 11.6% German, 11.0% English and 9.8% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 5,149 households, out of which 29.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.20% were married couples living together, 8.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.90% were non-families. 22.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.85.

The age distribution is 22.80% under the age of 18, 6.20% from 18 to 24, 26.80% from 25 to 44, 28.50% from 45 to 64, and 15.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 99.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $38,545, and the median income for a family was $45,843. Males had a median income of $35,120 versus $20,855 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,635. About 4.90% of families and 7.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.60% of those under age 18 and 10.80% of those age 65 or over.

In 2000, Clifton Forge was an independent city separate from the county. However, in 2001, Clifton Forge relinquished its city charter and reincorporated as a town; as a town, it is now a part of Alleghany County. The 2000 population of what is now Alleghany County (including Clifton Forge) was 17,215. The article includes geographic data from before and after the reincorporation of Clifton Forge into the county.


Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, provides service to the Clifton Forge station (12 miles (19 km) away from Covington) with the Cardinal route. Also Clifton Forge serves a major locomotive fuel facility for CSX Transportation.

The area is serviced by Interstate 64 ( east west) and Route 220 a (north south) offering interstate truck access to the area.

Major highways

  • I-64
  • US 60
  • US 220
  • SR 18
  • SR 42
  • SR 159
  • SR 311


Though it is the county seat, Covington is an independent city, and thus not is not part of Alleghany County.


Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities


The county economy is dominated by WestRock, which operates a paperboard mill in Covington, the second largest on the East Coast and an extrusion and converting facility in Low Moor. Alleghany County is within close proximity to The Homestead in Bath County and The Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs. Residents also commute to Lewisburg, Lexington, and Roanoke for employment. Covington has a team in the Valley Baseball League called the Lumberjacks.


Alleghany County is serviced by one high school, Alleghany High School (grades 9–12); one middle school, Clifton Middle School (grades 6–8), and three pre-kindergarten to grade 5 elementary schools: Callaghan Elementary, Mountain View Elementary and Sharon Elementary. The county also contains one Virginia state governors school, the Jackson River Governor's School; one technical center, the Jackson River Technical Center; and the Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.

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