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Alleghany County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2000, the population is 10,677. Its county seat is Sparta.

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Downtown Sparta, NC


The county was formed in 1859 from the eastern part of Ashe County, North Carolina. It was named for the Allegheny River. Numerous boundary adjustments have been made since it was established, but none have resulted in new counties.

Law and government

Alleghany County is a member of the regional High Country Council of Governments.

Geography and Climate

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 236 square miles, of which 235 square miles of it is land and 1 square mile of it is water. Alleghany County is located in northwestern North Carolina, and its northern border is with the State of Virginia. 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 feet to 3,000 feet above sea level. The southern border of the county drops abruptly nearly 2,000 feet to the Piedmont region of North Carolina. The plateau is crossed by numerous hills and mountains. The major rivers of Alleghany County are the New River, and the Little River, which flows through the town of Sparta, the county seat.

Due to its elevation, Alleghany County enjoys considerably cooler summers than the lowland areas to the east and south, with temperatures rarely rising over 80 F. In the winter, however, temperatures are much colder than would be expected in a southern state. Daytime highs can fall into the teens or lower, and snowfall can be substantial.

Prominent Residents

  • Robert L. Doughton: Bob Doughton (1863-1954) was a powerful United States Congressman from Alleghany County from 1911-1953. From 1933-1947 he was the Chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee. He used his influence as Chairman to create the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs along the county's eastern and southern borders. Doughton Park, the largest and most popular park on the Parkway, is named in his honor. He also played a major role in the passage of the Social Security Act. His former home is currently a popular bed-and-breakfast in Alleghany County.
  • Rufus A. Doughton: Born in 1857, he was the older brother of Robert Doughton. A prominent politician in his own right, he served as the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, and was North Carolina's Lieutenant Governor from 1893-1897. He died in 1946.
  • Zach Galifianakis (born 1969), a popular stand-up comedian and actor, lives on a farm near Sparta, the county seat. He splits his time between the farm and his work in New York City.


The county is divided into seven townships:

  • Cherry Lane
  • Cranberry
  • Gap Civil
  • Glade Creek
  • Piney Creek
  • Prathers Creek
  • Whitehead
Township Locations of Alleghany County of Western North Carolina


As of the census of 2000, there were 11,155 people, 4,793 households, with an average of 2.03 persons per household residing in the county. The population density was around 47 people per square mile. There were 7,358 housing units at an average density of 31 per square mile.

  • White persons - 92.2%
  • Black persons - 1.3%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native persons - 0.2%
  • Asian persons - 0.5%
  • Persons reporting two or more races - 1.1%
  • Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 9.0%

In the county the population was spread out with 5.1% under the age of 5, 19.4% under the age of 18, and 20.1% who were 65 years of age or older.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,501. The per capita income for the county was $19,944. About 19.3% of the population were below the poverty line.

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