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Grayson County, Virginia facts for kids

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Grayson County
Present-day Grayson County Courthouse
Present-day Grayson County Courthouse
Official seal of Grayson County
Map of Virginia highlighting Grayson 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 1793
Named for William Grayson
Seat Independence
Largest town Independence
 • Total 446 sq mi (1,160 km2)
 • Land 442 sq mi (1,140 km2)
 • Water 3.8 sq mi (10 km2)  0.8%
 • Total 15,533
 • Estimate 
 • Density 34.83/sq mi (13.447/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 9th

Grayson County is a county located in the southwestern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 15,533. Its county seat is Independence. Mount Rogers, the state's highest peak at 5,729 feet (1,746 m), is in Grayson County.


Grayson County was founded in 1793 from part of Wythe County. It was named for William Grayson, delegate to the Continental Congress from 1784 to 1787 and one of the first two U.S. Senators from Virginia.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 446 square miles (1,160 km2), of which 442 square miles (1,140 km2) is land and 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2) (0.8%) is water. The southernmost point in Virginia lies in Grayson County.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

  • Blue Ridge Parkway (part)
  • Jefferson National Forest (part)
  • Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (part)

Major highways

  • US 21
  • US 58
  • US 221
  • SR 16
  • SR 89
  • SR 93
  • SR 94
  • SR 274


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 3,912
1810 4,941 26.3%
1820 5,598 13.3%
1830 7,675 37.1%
1840 9,087 18.4%
1850 6,677 −26.5%
1860 8,252 23.6%
1870 9,587 16.2%
1880 13,068 36.3%
1890 14,394 10.1%
1900 16,853 17.1%
1910 19,856 17.8%
1920 19,816 −0.2%
1930 20,017 1.0%
1940 21,916 9.5%
1950 21,379 −2.5%
1960 17,930 −16.1%
1970 15,439 −13.9%
1980 16,579 7.4%
1990 16,278 −1.8%
2000 17,917 10.1%
2010 15,533 −13.3%
2018 (est.) 15,631 0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 17,917 people, 7,259 households, and 5,088 families residing in the county. The population density was 40 people per square mile (16/km2). There were 9,123 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile (8/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.70% White, 6.79% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.70% from other races, and 0.60% from two or more races. 1.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,259 households, out of which 26.40% had children under the living with them, 57.60% were married couples living together, 8.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.90% were non-families. 26.80% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 19.50% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 29.80% from 25 to 44, 26.20% from 45 to 64, and 16.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 107.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.70 males.

The Old Grayson County Courthouse, now used as a museum and site for public events.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,676, and the median income for a family was $35,076. Males had a median income of $24,126 versus $17,856 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,768. About 10.00% of families and 13.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.80% of those under age 18 and 16.30% of those age 65 or over.


Located in the Appalachian region of the United States, Grayson County has long been famous for its traditional, or "old-time" music and musicians. Although the entire Appalachian region is known for its music, the region around Mount Airy, North Carolina and Galax, Virginia is one of the areas where this music has remained strongest, even among young people. The Old Fiddler's Convention, one of the most prominent traditional music contests in the United States, has been held annually in Galax since 1935.[1] Grayson County is also the home of other fiddlers' conventions and old time and bluegrass festivals such as the Grayson County Fiddlers Convention, Fries Fiddlers Convention, and the Wayne C. Henderson Guitar Festival. The Whitetop Mountain Band, The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, The Wolfe Brothers String Band, and the Konnarock Critters are among many of the best known old time bands of the area.



Unincorporated communities


Grayson is economically isolated, without an Interstate Highway and surrounded by mountains. It struggled to attract and retain business; a situation made much worse beginning in 2009 with the recession. Losses of jobs in the furniture and textile sectors resulted in an unemployment rate of 14.6%. As part of the reformation of county government beginning in 2009, the new but idle River North Correctional Center was activated by the state brought in several hundred jobs. County government efforts were successful in retaining Core Fitness' Nautilus facility as the largest employer in the county and integrating local businesses as part of their supply chain. Independence Lumber suffered significant losses in a fire in November 2012 which forced it to relocate operations to North Carolina. Efforts by the county led to the company rebuilding and reopening its facility in 2014 with 125 jobs. By 2014 a focus on job creation brought additional business operations and 300 more jobs to the county and resulted in an unemployment rate of only 6.9%. By April 2019, the unemployment rate had plummeted to just 2.6%.


Public high school

Private high school

Notable residents

  • John Calhoun Dickenson (1815-1890), planter and politician
  • Henry Whitter (1892–1941), early country musician
  • Wade Ward (1892–1971), old-time country music banjo player and fiddler
  • Estil C. Ball (1913–1978), singer-songwriter, fingerstyle guitarist, and country, gospel and folk musician
  • Wayne Henderson, guitar maker and fingerstyle guitar player
  • Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, former editor of Reader's Digest
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