Beautiful Grayson County is located in the southwestern part of Virginia. Mount Rogers, the Commonwealth’s highest peak (5,729 feet) is located within its boundaries. In addition, the southernmost place in the Commonwealth is also within the boundaries of the County. Portions of the County lie within National Protected Areas: Blue Ridge Parkway, Jefferson National Forest, and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.
The total area of Grayson County is 446 square miles (442 square miles in land; 3.8 square miles in water). The estimated population in 2015 was 16,012 people. The population in that year was 36 people per square mile.
Grayson County contains three incorporated towns: Fries, Independence, and Troutdale. Other unincorporated communities or settlements include:
- Elk Creek
- Mouth of Wilson
- Comers Rock
- Flat Ridge
Grayson County is accessible, and the towns and communities are connected by several highways:
- S. Routes 21, 58, 221
- State Routes 16, 89, 93, 94, 274
Rural and mountain highways can be very dangerous, particularly during bad weather. One particular danger is the lack of paved shoulders that would provide a safety buffer for a driver fighting fatigue or distraction. Many of these auto accidents result in serious injuries to drivers and passengers or even in death due to vehicle rollovers. Regardless of location, however, drunk or drugged drivers and distracted driving cause a large percentage of accidents in Virginia.
If you, or a loved one, are injured in an auto accident on the highways of Grayson County, and the accident was not your fault, call Altizer Law, P.C., for a free initial consultation. We will listen to your account of the collision, review the police report and other assessments, and evaluate whether or not we believe there is a legal matter to pursue. If we determine that you have a case, Bettina will start working to gather full reports and medical information to build a legal case. When all reports and information have been gathered, we will make a final assessment of your car accident and recommend a course of action. We will then (if you hire us) begin the process of negotiation and/or trial or mediation to ensure you obtain justice and appropriate compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other hurts and harms.
Grayson County was founded in 1793 from part of Wythe County. It was named for William Grayson, a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1784 to 1787 and one of the first two U.S. Senators from Virginia.
William and Rosamond Bourne came to the Knob Fork area on the New River in 1765. They found eight other families already living here. William Bourne was elected as first Clerk of the County, at the first court session that was held in a log barn located on the Bourne farm, near the present town of Fries.
In 1850, the county seat was moved from Old Town in the eastern part of the county to Independence, a more centrally located site. The first courthouse was built in Independence and served until 1904, when it was condemned. A new courthouse was completed by builder E.L. Robbins in 1908. Today, the Historic 1908 Courthouse functions as the art and cultural center of Grayson County.
In 1901, Colonel Francis Fries of Salem, NC purchased land on the north banks of the New River. It was a remote area, but Fries believed it had great potential because of the river. By special Act of Congress, he was given permission to build a dam at Bartlett Falls on the New River. Construction began in 1901, and in just a few months the 39-foot-high dam was finished. A new town began to grow, and was named for Colonel Fries and backed by the Washington Mill Company. In early 1903 the mill began operation, with the moving water of the River turning the mill wheel. The town of Fries grew around the mill.
Troutdale was incorporated as a town in 1906. It began as a small settlement in 1870 that served as a stopping point on the Wagon Route to the farms and stores in Grayson County and in Ashe and Alleghany Counties in North Carolina. The coming of the railroad in 1904 made Troutdale a boom town. The Troutdale Trading Company carried goods from Grayson County over the mountains to Marion and manufactured goods from Marion to Grayson County. After the arrival of the railroad a number of people settled and started businesses in Troutdale. But by 1920 the boom was over and Troutdale began to decline. With the introduction of the automobile and the construction of roads and highways, railroad travel declined sharply. By 1934, even the rails had been removed from Troutdale. Some have argued that a factor in Troutdale’s struggles to grow and rapid downfall is the absence of a water system and sewage system.
The Town of Independence was created as the settlement to a disagreement about where to locate the county seat in 1850. The decision was made by three commissioners from adjacent counties. They chose a site that was preferred by “independents” and called the town Independence. The location of the new town would be a site where five streams met.
Because Grayson County is isolated by mountains and no Interstate Highway access, it has struggled economically for many years. The recession of 2009 brought job losses in the furniture and textile sectors and raised the unemployment rate to 14.6 percent. When the County began to reform its government, leaders also attended to improving its economic outlook. The River North Correctional Center was reopened. The County was also able to keep the Core Fitness’ Nautilus facility, which was the largest employer. New County leadership worked with local businesses and Nautilus to make the local companies part of the supply chain. But in 2012 Independence Lumber sustained serious losses due to a fire and operations were moved to North Carolina. County leaders worked with the company to rebuild and reopen the facility in 2014.
According to the 2016 update of the Virginia Employment Commission’s report, the top industries, based on employment, are:
- Government (primarily local and state)
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Retail Trade
- Accommodation and Food Service
- Finance and Insurance
According to the same report, the top employers in Grayson County are:
- Grayson County School Board
- Grayson County Correctional Center
- Grayson County
- Independence Lumber Company
- Core Health and Fitness/Nautilus
- Grayson Nursing and Rehab Center
- The Grayson National Bank
- Select a Service LLC / Blue Ridge Energies – delivers propane and oil to commercial and residential customers in Grayson and surrounding counties.
- Oak Hill Academy – a co-educational, private Baptist-affiliated secondary school in Mouth of Wilson, VA. The school serves students in grades 8 – 12. Of its 150 students, 98 percent are boarders.
- Food City
- McAllister Mills — McAllister Mills is the leading manufacturer of safe, heat resistant materials for industry. Utilizing the most advanced fibers from alumina, silica, basalt, glass, aramids and biosoluble fibers, we manufacture textile products for almost any application. Our thermal solutions cover a full service temperature range from 0°F to 2500°F. Insulation blankets, fabrics, tapes, ropes, and custom fabricated parts are engineered for the most demanding thermal environment.
- Darco — Manufacturer of industrial gasketing products from high temperature textiles.
- C & B Lumber — Cand B Lumber offers original siding and log home supplies
- Hansen Turbine Assemblies — Power Plant Equipment Supplier
- Oak Hall Industries – manufacturer of quality academic, judicial and religious apparel, will
- Postal Service
- Grayson County Public Welfare
- Town of Independence
- Virginia Department of Conservation
- Healthcare Services Group — healthcare support
- Meriwether Godsey — dining service management to locations throughout Virginia. Serving independent schools, colleges, residential group homes, long-term care facilities
- Wythe Grayson Regional Library
- Aunt Bea’s Family Restaurant
- Stewart Furniture Design Inc. — contractor in the Nonupholstered Wood HouseholdFurniture Manufacturing industry
- 21 Grocery & Restaurant LLC
Grayson County has been famous for many years for its traditional Appalachian (or “old-time”) music and musicians. The entire Appalachian region is known for its music, but the area surrounding Mount Airy, NC and Galax, VA is among the areas when this music remains strong, even among younger generations. The Old Fiddler’s Convention, a major traditional music contest in the U.S., has been held in Galax since 1935. Grayson County is the home of other fiddlers’ conventions and old time and bluegrass festivals, including: Grayson County Fiddlers Convention, Fries Fiddlers Convention, and the Wayne C. Henderson Guitar Festival. Some of the best known “old-time” bands in the area are:
- The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters
- The Whitetop Mountain Band
- The Wolfe Brothers String Band
- The Konnarock Critters
Local Attractions and Activities
The town of Fries has built an economy based on outdoor adventure and is working to restore its past and encourage tourism. The New River offers kayaking, canoeing, fishing, biking, birding, horseback riding, camping, rock climbing, tubing, and more. The center of community life is the Fries Community Center. It offers live music, dances, plays, a public swimming pool, an indoor gym, duck pin bowling alley, weight room and game arcade. The building is also home to the Library and a historic theater, which is part of the Association that is Spotlighting Virginia’s historic theatres.
In Fries those interested in hiking, camping, horseback riding and birding will find abundant opportunities at
- Grayson Highlands State Park
- The Appalachian Trail
- The Virginia Creeper Trail
- Hungry Horse East
- Iron Mountain Horse Camp
- The New River Trail State Park Map makes it very easy for visitors to find the perfect park for their interests.
- Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
Other points of interest include the Blue Ridge Music Center, the Blue Ridge Wine Trail, Fort Chiswell Animal Park, Harmon Museum, the historic 1908 county courthouse, Matthews Living History Farm Museum, Mt. Vale Vineyard and Winery, West Wind Farm Vineyard and Winery, and the Winterberry Gallery.
The town of Independence is a designated music venue on the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.
Grayson County offers several wonderful sites for Agritourism, in addition to the Matthews Farm Museum, which also offers a range of classes.
In the arts, Grayson County boasts Chestnut Creek School of the Arts and the Blue Ridge Music Center. They will also want to visit the Twin County Arts Council (Carroll and Grayson Counties).
Call Altizer Law, P.C., if you are Injured
If you are injured through no fault of your own in Grayson County, you can count on the skill, knowledge, and experience of our legal team. Bettina Altizer will help you evaluate your accident and injuries in a free consultation. Then, if there is a case and you hire us to represent you (or a loved one), we will pursue justice on your behalf aggressively to ensure that you obtain justice and an appropriate financial settlement for your injuries, pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and possibly more. We handle all types of personal injury cases. We also represent people who have been harmed by medical malpractice or by nursing home abuse or neglect. Call us for your free consultation. If you cannot come to us, we will come to you.