Alleghany County (1859)

Written By Jonathan Martin

The fifth smallest county in North Carolina, Alleghany County was formed from parts of Ashe County in 1859 by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly. It received its name from the Allegewi Indian word “oolikhanna” (beautiful stream). In 1825, Bower’s Store became Alleghany’s county seat. The town title would change twice until finally becoming Sparta in 1879. Piney Creek, Laurel Springs, Twin Oaks, Glade Valley, Roaring Gap, and Stratford are other communities within Alleghany County.

The Cherokee and Shawnee were the earliest known people to inhabit the area, but by the late 1700s European colonizers from England, Germany, Scotland, and Ireland populated the mountains. Joseph Doughton was one of Alleghany’s earliest residents, and his lineage would included two of the territory’s most prominent citizens: Rufus Doughton, North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor in the early 1890s, and Robert Doughton, a U.S. Representative from 1910 to 1953. Robert Doughton championed the Social Security program and gained national acclaim during Franklin Roosevelt’s presedency.

 Alleghany County rests in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, constructed in the 1930s, attracts many tourists. Other important land features of the area include the New River — one of the oldest rivers in the world — along with the Little River and a section of the Eastern Continental Divide.

The economy and cultural aspects of Alleghany County draw from the mountainous region. With productivity reaching over $17 million dollars annually, the Christmas tree industry generates a substantial portion of the area’s economy. Also, Alleghany County cattle farms supply large amounts of cattle and dairy products to the rest of North Carolina.

The rich heritage of the mountains bestows several cultural festivals throughout Alleghany County. The Blue Ridge Mountain Fair, the Blue Ridge Mountains Crafts Fair, the Mountain Heritage Festival, and Choose and Cut Day (Christmas tree day) attract numerous outsiders to the area annually.