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Buchanan County, Virginia facts for kids

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Buchanan County
Buchanan County Courthouse in Grundy
Buchanan County Courthouse in Grundy
Official seal of Buchanan County
Map of Virginia highlighting Buchanan County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  Virginia
Founded 1858
Named for James Buchanan
Seat Grundy
Largest town Grundy
 • Total 504 sq mi (1,310 km2)
 • Land 503 sq mi (1,300 km2)
 • Water 1.1 sq mi (3 km2)  0.2%
 • Total 24,098
 • Estimate 
 • Density 47.81/sq mi (18.461/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 9th

Buchanan County is a United States county in far western Virginia, the only Virginia county to border both West Virginia and Kentucky. The county is part of the Southwest Virginia region and lies in the rugged Appalachian Plateau portion of the Appalachian Mountains. Its county seat is Grundy.

Buchanan County was established in 1858 from parts of Russell and Tazewell counties, and it was named in honor of then-President James Buchanan; however, the pronunciation of the county's name differs from that of the 15th president's surname, with locals saying "Boo-can-nin". In 1880, part of Buchanan County was taken to form Dickenson County.

As of the 2010 census, the county population was 24,098, and had a double-digit percentage population decrease over the last three censuses. In addition, as of 2012, Buchanan was the fifth-poorest county in Virginia, when ranked by median household income and has been consistently in bottom 5% over the past decade.


George Peter Alexander Healy - James Buchanan - Google Art Project
President James Buchanan, for whom the county was named

The county was formed in 1858 from parts of Russell County and Tazewell County. It was named for James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States. In 1880 the southwestern part of Buchanan County was combined with parts of Russell County and Wise County to become Dickenson County.

Helen Timmons Henderson (1877–1925) helped participate in the work of the Buchanan Mission School at Council, Va. She and Sarah Lee Fain (1888–1962) of Norfolk became the first two women to be elected into the Virginia General Assembly. They were both Democrats in the House of Delegates. When Helen was in office, the delegates agreed to let 6.2 miles (10.0 km) of improved road to be placed from Russell County, across Big "A" Mountain, to Council. Route 80 is also known as "Helen Henderson Highway, In 1876, Grundy was chosen and became the county seat of Buchanan County, it was named in honor of Felix Grundy, a Senator from Tennessee.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 503.8 square miles (1,304.8 km2), of which 502.7 square miles (1,302.0 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) (0.2%) is water. It is home to Poplar Gap Park.


The county is divided into seven supervisor districts: Garden, Hurricane, Knox, North Grundy, Prater, Rock Lick, and South Grundy.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • US 460
  • SR 80
  • SR 83


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 2,793
1870 3,777 35.2%
1880 5,694 50.8%
1890 5,867 3.0%
1900 9,692 65.2%
1910 12,334 27.3%
1920 15,441 25.2%
1930 16,740 8.4%
1940 31,477 88.0%
1950 35,748 13.6%
1960 36,724 2.7%
1970 32,071 −12.7%
1980 37,989 18.5%
1990 31,333 −17.5%
2000 26,978 −13.9%
2010 24,098 −10.7%
2018 (est.) 21,221 −11.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2018
USA Buchanan County, Virginia age pyramid
Age distribution of Buchanan County, Virginia

As of the census of 2000, there were 26,978 people, 10,464 households, and 7,900 families residing in the county. The population density was 54 people per square mile (21/km2). There were 11,887 housing units at an average density of 24 per square mile (9/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.75% White, 2.62% Black or African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.10% from other races, 0.33% from two or more races, and 0.47% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 10,464 households, out of which 30.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.90% were married couples living together, 10.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.50% were non-families. Of all households, 22.50% were made up of individuals, and 9.40% 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 2.87.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.40% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 31.20% from 25 to 44, 27.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 102.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $22,213, and the median income for a family was $27,328. Males had a median income of $29,540 versus $17,766 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,788. About 19.80% of families and 23.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.20% of those under age 18 and 16.90% of those age 65 or over.



Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities



  • Appalachian School of Law, Grundy
  • Appalachian College of Pharmacy, Oakwood

Private schools

  • Mountain Mission School, Grundy
  • Keen Mountain Christian Academy, Oakwood

Public high schools

All public schools in Buchanan County are operated by Buchanan County Public Schools system.

  • Grundy Senior High School, Grundy
  • Twin Valley High School, Pilgrims Knob
  • Council High School, Council
  • Hurley High School, Hurley

Public elementary and middle schools

  • Twin Valley Elem/Middle School
  • Council Elementary School
  • Riverview Elementary Middle School
  • Hurley Elementary/Middle School

Former schools

  • Harman Elementary (Demolished: 2009; site is now a baseball field.)
  • Vansant Elementary (Demolished: 2007)
  • Big Rock Elementary (Demolished: 2009)
  • Grundy Jr. High School (Now the Appalachian School of Law)
  • Garden Elementary (Demolished)
  • Garden Middle School
  • Garden High School (Now the Appalachian College of Pharmacy)
  • Jewell Valley Elementary School (Demolished: ?)
  • J.M. Bevins Elementary School (Closed: 2018)
  • Whitewood Elementary School (Demolished)
  • Whitewood High School (Demolished: 2010)
  • D.A. Justus (Demolished)
  • P.V. Dennis (Now the ASL Library)
  • Russell Prater Elementary
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