Galax, Virginia

Galax, Virginia

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Galax is an independent city
Independent city
An independent city is a city that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity. These type of cities should not be confused with city-states , which are fully sovereign cities that are not part of any other sovereign state.-Historical precursors:In the Holy Roman Empire,...

 in the southwestern part
Southwest Virginia
Southwest Virginia, often abbreviated as SWVA, is a mountainous region of Virginia in the westernmost part of the commonwealth. Southwest Virginia has been defined alternatively as all Virginia counties on the Appalachian Plateau, all Virginia counties west of the Eastern Continental Divide, or...

 of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth (United States)
Four of the constituent states of the United States officially designate themselves Commonwealths: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia....

 of Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. It is bounded to the northeast by Carroll County
Carroll County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 29,245 people, 12,186 households, and 8,786 families residing in the county. The population density was 61 people per square mile . There were 14,680 housing units at an average density of 31 per square mile...

 and to the southwest by Grayson County
Grayson County, Virginia
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 . There were 9,123 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile...

. The population was 7,042 as of 2010. The Bureau of Economic Analysis
Bureau of Economic Analysis
The Bureau of Economic Analysis is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that provides important economic statistics including the gross domestic product of the United States. Its stated mission is to "promote a better understanding of the U.S...

 combines the city of Galax with neighboring Carroll county for statistical purposes.


Galax is located at 36°39′52"N 80°55′12"W (36.664675, -80.920275).

The United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

 says the city has a total area of 8.2 square miles (21.2 km²), all of it land.


As of the census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

of 2000, there were 6,837 people, 2,950 households, and 1,843 families residing in the city. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 830.9 people per square mile (320.8/km²). There were 3,217 housing units at an average density of 391.0 per square mile (150.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.11% White, 6.26% Black or African American
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, 0.45% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 5.51% from other races
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, and 0.95% from two or more races. 11.07% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,950 households out of which 27.6% had children under the living with them, 46.0% were married couples
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the , 7.9% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,236, and the median income for a family was $36,832. Males had a median income of $24,013 versus $18,393 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the city was $17,447. About 13.6% of families and 18.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.8% of those under age 18 and 21.4% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2010 Galax had a population of 7,042 people. Its racial makeup was 78.12% Non-Hispanic white, 6.23% black, 0.10% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 0.10% Non-Hispanics of some other race, 1.29% Non-Hispanics reporting one or more races and 14.04% Hispanic.


Located in the Appalachian region of the United States, Galax has long been famous for its traditional, or "old-timey
Old-time music
Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music, with roots in the folk music of many countries, including England, Scotland, Ireland and countries in Africa. It developed along with various North American folk dances, such as square dance, buck dance, and clogging. The genre also...

" music and musicians. Although the entire Appalachian region is known for its music, the region around Mount Airy
Mount Airy, North Carolina
Mount Airy is a city in Surry County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,388.-History:Mount Airy was settled in the 1750s as a stagecoach stop on the road between Winston-Salem and Galax, Virginia. It was named for a nearby plantation...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and Galax is one of the few areas of the United States 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. It has long attracted the best up-and-coming musicians in the bluegrass firmament. The Blue Ridge Music Center
Blue Ridge Music Center
The Blue Ridge Music Center is part of the Blue Ridge Parkway system and is located at Milepost 213 near Galax, Virginia. The center celebrates the history and performance of old time mountain music of Virginia and North Carolina and is largely concerned with local artists who best show this...

 with its amphitheather and music museum of old-time music is just a few miles away on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles , mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains...

 at Milepost 213.

Climate and Geography

Galax sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. It is an independent city that sits between Carroll County and Grayson County on the North Carolina Border. To the north, the land drops into the Great Valley of Virginia, to the south, the Piedmont of North Carolina. Galax sits in a valley, at roughly 2500' elevation. To the East, Carroll and Floyd counties rise to 3,000' in elevation on average, with peaks topping 4,000'.
To the West, lie the highest mountains in Virginia. Mount Rogers and Whitetop both eclipse 5200'. Galax City, Carroll County, and Grayson County, are often considered part of the North Carolina High Country due to their proximity, as well as very similar geographic and climatic characteristics.

Summers in Galax are often mild and humid. Average highs are in the low 80's, about 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding lowlands. Fall is often rainy and cool, with snowflakes not uncommon before Halloween. Winters average between 30-40" of snow per year. Much, much more than the surrounding areas to the South. Temperatures struggle to hit 40 from December to March, with many nights in the single digits.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to some unique Microclimates. For instance, many times when the winds turn from the east, we are inundated with moisture off of the Atlantic Ocean resulting in fog and drizzle for days on end. This is a climate characteristic of the Pac NW.

To the west, in the winter time, the highest mountains of SWVA experience lake effect snowfall when the winds turn from the NW.

Frequent temperature drops and vastly changing weather conditions occur of this portion of the state. This is caused by not only the elevation difference, but orographic lift, making it easier for the atmosphere to produce precipitation. Often in the winter, the area will receive several inches of snow, while many places to the north in the New River Valley, and to the South in the Piedmont of NC get only rain.

It is old folklore that in the late 19th century and early 1920s, people would cut chunks of ice out of the rivers in the wintertime, cover them with sawdust, and refrigerate their meat through the warm seasons.


Galax was founded along the watercourse of Chesnut Creek which has provided an abundant water supply for the city as well as furnishing an early source of power. The Norfolk and Western Railway extended a spur into the village, then called Blairs, with the first train arriving in 1904. The town itself was incorporated in 1906. It was named after Galax
Galax is a genus in the flowering plant family Diapensiaceae, containing a single species, Galax urceolata...

, an evergreen plant growing in the area. The railroad provided both freight and passenger transportation that facilitated the growth of industry and provided many of the necessities of life for the people. The manufacture of furniture, textiles, mirrors, garments, and hardwood flooring formed the economic backbone for the area. The processing of condensed milk also enabled many small farms to sell limited quantities of milk that were processed in Galax.

During the 1950s, Galax chose to separate from the two counties into whose territory it extended and became an independent city. That status fueled initial economic growth and provided a strong tax base for a number of years. While cooperating with both Grayson and Carroll Counties, Galax was able to chart an independent course to better respond to the needs of its citizens.

With the decline in economy, Galax has seen the closing of all but one of its furniture factories leaving much of the population unemployed.

Galax has been claimed as the 'bluegrass capital of the world.'

The building of an Open Access Network
Open Access Network
An open-access network refers to a horizontally layered network architecture in telecommunications, and the business model that separates the physical access to the network from the delivery of services. In an OAN, the owner or manager of the network does not supply services for the network; these...

 called "The Wired Road" began in 2007 by a consortium consisting of the City of Galax along with Carroll and Grayson counties. Consisting of both optical fiber
Optical fiber
An optical fiber is a flexible, transparent fiber made of a pure glass not much wider than a human hair. It functions as a waveguide, or "light pipe", to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber. The field of applied science and engineering concerned with the design and application of...

 and wireless broadband networks, it is projected to reach 80% of regional homes and businesses by 2012.


Galax is served by the Galax City Public School Division

High School: Galax High School
Galax high school
Galax High School is a high school located in the independent city of Galax, Virginia, United States.- Extra curricular activities :Galax High School participates in baseball, basketball, band, cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track, volleyball, and...

 (serving grades 8 through 12)

Middle School: Galax Middle School (serving grades 5 through 7)

Elementary School: Galax Elementary School (serving grades PreK through 4)

Notable residents

  • Charlie Higgins
    Charlie Higgins
    Charlie Higgins was an American old time fiddle player from Galax, Virginia. Higgins said that he was influenced by other old-time fiddlers including Emmett Lundy and Fiddlin' Arthur Smith. His style of playing was said to be very innovative and creative. Higgins played regularly with Wade Ward,...

      (1878–1967) – old-time fiddle player
  • Ernest Stoneman
    Ernest Stoneman
    Ernest Van "Pop" Stoneman ranked among the prominent recording artists of country music's first commercial decade.-Biography:...

      (1893–1968) – early country music recording artist
  • Betsy Rutherford
    Betsy Rutherford
    Betsy Rutherford was a performer of traditional music from the Appalachian Mountains who was known for her powerful, authentic singing style. In 1970, she recorded an album, “Traditional Country Music,” which was released by Biograph Records in 1971...

      (1944–1991) – old-time country music singer and recording artist

See also

  • National Register of Historic Places in Galax, Virginia

External links