Wise County is a county located in the U.S. state — officially, "Commonwealth" — of Virginia. In 1856, the county was formed from land taken from Lee, Scott, and Russell Counties. It was named after Henry A. Wise, who was the Governor of Virginia at the time. As of 2006, the population was 41,905, making it the largest jurisdiction in terms of population outside of any metropolitan area in Virginia. Its county seat is Wise.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau
, the county has a total area of 405 square miles
), of which, 404 square miles (1,046 km²) of it is land and 1 square miles (3 km²) of it (0.29%) is water. The county is part of the Appalachians and has many mountainous features, including the peak of High Knob
and Powell Valley
As of the census
of 2000, there were 40,123 people, 16,013 households, and 11,513 families residing in the county. The population density
was 99 people per square mile (38/km²). There were 17,792 housing units at an average density of 44 per square mile (17/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.88% White
, 1.78% Black
or African American
, 0.16% Native American
, 0.30% Asian
, 0.01% Pacific Islander
, 0.26% from other races
, and 0.61% from two or more races. 0.73% of the population were Hispanic
of any race.
There were 16,013 households out of which 31.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.20% were married couples living together, 12.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.10% were non-families. 25.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.91.
In the county, the population was spread out with 23.00% under the age of 18, 10.20% from 18 to 24, 28.00% from 25 to 44, 24.80% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 95.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $26,149, and the median income for a family was $32,898. Males had a median income of $28,983 versus $21,029 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,271. About 16.10% of families and 20.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.30% of those under age 18 and 12.30% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
The independent city of Norton, which lies within the confines of Wise County, is not a part of the county.
Wise County Public Schools
operates seventeen school facilities in the county for over 7,000 students.
Colleges and universities
Natural and Outdoor Recreation
A large portion of the Jefferson National Forest
is contained within Wise County, and the Clinch River
winds through the county. These two factors, combined with Wise County's location in the Appalachian Mountains
, mean that Wise County offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation.
In addition to many trails connecting to and surrounding the Appalachian Trail system, Wise county is home to many parks, including Miners' Park in Big Stone Gap and the Louis E. Henegar Miners' Memorial Park in Appalachia.
Among the unique features of Wise County are High Knob, a mountain with one of the last remaining Appalachian Fire Towers, and Wetlands Estonia, an Applachian Wetland and part fo the Clinch River Watershed.
Theater and the Arts
- The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama is performed in Big Stone Gap, Virginia throughout the summer. It is the Commonwealth of Virginia's official outdoor drama.
- The Pro-Art Association offers a variety of theatrical, musical, and fine-arts events throughout the school year. It is headquartered in Wise.
- The Wise County Summer Academy of Art, sponsored by Wise County Public Schools and funded in part by the Virginia Commission of Arts, provides fine arts programming for children throughout the summer months, including large scale productions and touring performance opportunities.
- The Appalachian Children's Theater (ACT) promotes performing arts and fine arts education for children in Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and Northeast Tennessee. In 2006, the organization opened it's newly renovated facility in Downtown Wise.
- The Charles W. Harris Art Gallery is located on the site of the Wise County Public Library in Wise.
Festivals and Fairs