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In the woods · On the farm · By the water
Franklin County land and farms have gained added attention by investors, developers and homebuyers as residential development has increased due to commuters from the Roanoke, Lynchburg and Martinsville urban areas. Land in Franklin County surrounding Smith Lake has accounted for significant increases in population, which now is 56,042, a 20% increase in just a decade. Retirees in search of a rural laid-back lifestyle also have discovered the county. Located in the Appalachian region, the 712-square-mile county is adjacent to Bedford, Pittsylvania, Henry, Patrick, Floyd and Roanoke counties. Rocky Mount is the county seat. Manufacturing and farming provide a significant portion of the county’s economic base. Farms account for 156,254 acres, and livestock and poultry equal 75% of agricultural sales. Twenty-seven percent of farmland remains as woodlands that can provide opportunities for lumbering. Top private employers include M.W. Manufacturers, Trinity Packaging Corp. and Wal-Mart. During Prohibition, Franklin County became known as the Moonshine Capital of the World. Fishermen chase fish in the Roanoke River and Smith Mountain Lake. And hunters find plenty of opportunities to hunt deer, turkeys and grouse. The lake and Blue Ridge Parkway also attract birders, hikers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts. Booker T. Washington National Monument preserves portions of the 207-acre tobacco farm on which educator and leader Booker T. Washington was born into slavery in 1856. Franklin County Public Schools provides K-12 public education. Virginia Western Community College and Ferrum College offer higher learning.