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Rappahannock County, Virginia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rappahannock County
Rappahannock County Courthouse in Washington, Virginia
Rappahannock County Courthouse in Washington, Virginia
Official seal of Rappahannock County
Map of Virginia highlighting Rappahannock County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 38°41′N 78°10′W / 38.69°N 78.17°W / 38.69; -78.17
Country United States
State Virginia
Named forRappahannock River
Largest townWashington
 • Total267 sq mi (690 km2)
 • Land266 sq mi (690 km2)
 • Water0.8 sq mi (2 km2)  0.3%
 • Total7,348
 • Density28/sq mi (11/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district10th

Rappahannock County is a county located in the northern Piedmont region of the Commonwealth of Virginia, US, adjacent to Shenandoah National Park. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 7,348.[1] Its county seat is Washington. The name "Rappahannock" comes from the Algonquian word lappihanne (also noted as toppehannock), meaning "river of quick, rising water" or "where the tide ebbs and flows."[citation needed] The county is included in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Rappahannock County Agricultural Close-up



Rappahannock County was founded by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1833, based on the growing population's need to have better access to a county seat. The county's land was carved from Culpeper County. Rappahannock County was named for the river that separates it from Fauquier County.

The land on which Rappahannock County is sited was owned in the early 1700s by Thomas Fairfax 6th Lord Fairfax. It was part of the Northern Neck Proprietary, which consisted of 5.3 million acres of land located between the Rappahannock River and the Potomac River, from their headwaters in the Blue Ridge mountains to the Chesapeake Bay. In 1649 King Charles II of England, then in exile in France after the execution of his father, Charles I, had given this unmapped and unsettled region to seven loyal supporters. By 1688 the proprietary was owned solely by Thomas Lord Culpeper whose only child married Thomas 5th Lord Fairfax in 1690. They acquired the proprietary on the death of Lord Culpeper, and the region became synonymous with the Fairfax name. In 1719, Thomas Fairfax 6th Lord Fairfax inherited the land.

In 1728, the land that became Rappahannock County began to be granted to individuals by agents of King George II of Great Britain.[2] At that time, it was believed that the headwaters of the Rappahannock River were in the Chester Gap area and that the Rappahannock County land was located south of the Northern Neck Proprietary. Much of the land granted by the King consisted of large tracts along the rivers and streams and was prime agricultural land. In 1735, Thomas Fairfax brought suit against the English crown because of these land grants. Surveying parties were dispatched which determined that the headwaters of the Rappahannock River was the Conway River, which leads into the Rapidan River and then into the Rappahannock River. After 10 years, Fairfax won his suit against the Crown, and land grants in this area subsequent to 1745 were made by Fairfax. After the American Revolution the remaining land, located primarily in the mountains, was granted by the Commonwealth of Virginia.[3][4]

After its founding in 1833, Rappahannock County was governed by 25 gentlemen justices, supplemented by a Clerk of the Court, Commonwealth attorney, county surveyor, commissioner of revenue, and sheriff. The courthouse, court clerk's office, and jail were constructed in the town of Washington in 1834–1836.[5] The county was primarily agricultural and self-sufficient, with a few merchants and craftsmen providing goods that could not be made on the farms. Although tobacco was widely grown in tidewater Virginia, the land in Rappahannock County was inadequate for this crop. Instead, farmers in the county grew wheat, oats, corn, and hay and maintained herds of cattle, sheep, and swine. The county was well-watered by streams and rivers originating in the Blue Ridge mountains, and mills along these waterways were built to grind corn and grain, saw lumber, and card and weave wool. The 1850s was an era of turnpike building, providing access from Culpeper, New Market, and Fredericksburg to the county. At this time, transportation was by foot, by horseback, or by horse-drawn wagon or carriage.[6]

In 1861, Virginia seceded from the Union. No battles were fought in Rappahannock County during the Civil War although there were skirmishes, encampments, and significant troop movements through the county. Men from the county served in the 6th Regiment Virginia Cavalry and the 7th and 49th Regiment Virginia Infantry.[7] The war devastated the agricultural economy of the county and destroyed the turnpikes. After the war, the county was governed under the auspices of Military District No. 1 commanded by Union General John M. Schofield.[8] In 1870 a new Virginia constitution was adopted that mandated the county be divided into five townships with one elected supervisor from each to form a Board to perform the executive functions of the county. This government by a five-member Board of Supervisors still exists.

Recovery from the war was slow, but times were becoming more prosperous by the 1890s. The county remained primarily rural and agricultural. Apples became an important cash crop. Rappahannock County moved into the 20th century with the introduction of telephones, electricity, automobiles, improved roads, high school education, and a local newspaper. A jitney company was created in 1916 to provide public transportation, followed by other bus lines in the 1920s and 1930s. In the mid-1920s the Commonwealth of Virginia began actions to acquire land to establish Shenandoah National Park, either by purchase from willing owners or by condemnation and purchase. About 32,000 acres of Rappahannock County land was conveyed to the federal government for the Park, displacing multiple families. A memorial with the surnames of those who lived in the Rappahannock County portion of the Park was constructed along Route 211 in 2019. Two resettlement areas were established in the county, one near the town of Washington and the other near the village of Flint Hill. During the Depression years of the 1930s, the county benefitted from President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs. Construction of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park began in 1931 through the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and several of their camps were established at Beech Spring on Route 211 west of Sperryville and north and south of Thornton's Gap at the top of the Blue Ridge. These provided work for local men and a market for farmers for produce, meat, milk, and eggs to feed the corpsmen.[9]

The opening of Shenandoah National Park brought substantial tourism business to the county in the 1930s, aided by inexpensive automobile transportation and by the Commonwealth of Virginia taking over maintenance of all primary and secondary roads in the county. The area became replete with gasoline stations, roadside businesses, lunch rooms, restaurants, and motels. Many private homes took in overnight lodgers. In the 1970s there was an influx of young adults into the county who were seeking a rural lifestyle and who brought with them their skills and talents as artists, artisans, musicians, carpenters, and other craftsmen. They blended with the rural residents who already lived in the county, often for many generations, which fostered the community of diverse individuals who live in the county today. Rappahannock County continues to cater to tourists and locals alike, with chic restaurants, bars, artisan shops, artist studios, bed and breakfast accommodations, and antique stores. However, the county remains primarily rural, agricultural, and undeveloped, in large part due to tight governmental control of land zoning and restrictions on subdivision.

Historic Districts and Structures

Rappahannock County has five historic districts designated on the National Register of Historic Places. These are located in Ben Venue, Flint Hill, Laurel Mills, Sperryville, and the town of Washington. It also has thirteen historic structures listed on the National Register.[10] Many other homes and buildings in the county are also historic, dating from the 1800s. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources maintains a database of historic properties in the County that contains information on more than 700 properties.  Over 300 family cemeteries have also been documented as historic resources.[11]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 267.2 square miles (692.0 km2), of which 266.4 sq mi (690.0 km2) is land and 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2) (0.3%) is water.[12] The Rappahannock River forms the northeastern boundary and separates Rappahannock County from Fauquier County. Rappahannock County is bounded on the southeast by Culpeper County and on the southwest by Madison County. The Blue Ridge Mountains occupy much of the western portion of the county.

Adjacent counties

National protected area


Rappahannock County is located in the northern Piedmont area of Virginia. Much of its land consists of monadnocks, many of which were named for the families that originally owned the land. These small mountains culminate in the west at the Blue Ridge mountains of Shenandoah National Park. When the Park's land was privately owned, much of the land had been cleared for farms, pasturage, and orchards. Today these mountainsides are completely wooded again, laced with hiking trails including the Appalachian Trail and with Skyline Drive located along the summits of the Blue Ridge mountains. The summits of the following mountains are located within Rappahannock County:

  • Battle and Little Battle Mountains
  • Big and Little Bastard Mountains
  • Bessie Bell Mountain
  • Browns Mountain
  • Buck Ridge
  • Butler Mountain
  • Castle (Castleton) Mountain
  • Catlett Mountain
  • Chancellor Mountain
  • Compton Peak
  • Fielding Mountain
  • Fodderstack Mountain
  • Fogg Mountain
  • Fork Mountain
  • Ginger Hill
  • Googe Mountain
  • Grindstone Mountain
  • Hazel Mountain
  • Hickerson Mountain
  • Hogback Mountain
  • Hot Mountain
  • Jefferson Mountain
  • Jenkins and Little Jenkins Mountains
  • Jobbers Mountain
  • Keyser Mountain
  • Long Mountain
  • Mary's Rock
  • Mason and Little Mason Mountains
  • Massies Mountain
  • Meetinghouse Mountain
  • Menefee Mountain
  • Mulky and Little Mulky Mountains
  • North Marshall Mountain
  • Long Mountain
  • Oventop Mountain
  • Pass Mountain
  • The Peak
  • Pickerel Ridge
  • Pignut Mountain
  • Pine Hill
  • Piney Ridge
  • The Pinnacle
  • Poes Mountain
  • Poortown Mountain
  • Redmans Mountain
  • Red Oak Mountain
  • Rosser Mountain
  • Round Mountain
  • Schoolhouse Mountain
  • Skinner Ridge
  • Slaughter Mountain
  • Turkey Ridge
  • Turkey Mountain
  • Walden Mountain
  • Wolf Mountain
U.S. Route 211 as it enters Rappahannock County over the Blue Ridge Mountains.


Three primary highways traverse the county: U.S. Route 211, U.S. Route 522, and State Route 231. These account for 57 miles and 21% of the total public road mileage. The remaining 219 miles are secondary roads which provide a link to the rural residential and farm areas of the county. Five roads in the county have been designated as Virginia Scenic Byways, and Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park has been designated as a National Scenic Byway.[13] The county has no public transportation by air, bus, or rail.


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
1790–1960[15] 1900–1990[16]
1990–2000[17] 2010[18] 2020[19]

2020 census

Rappahannock County, Virginia - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010[18] Pop 2020[19] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 6,653 6,444 90.23% 87.70%
Black or African American alone (NH) 318 198 4.31% 2.69%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 15 17 0.20% 0.23%
Asian alone (NH) 39 63 0.53% 0.86%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 3 0 0.04% 0.00%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 9 30 0.12% 0.41%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 108 307 1.46% 4.18%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 228 289 3.09% 3.93%
Total 7,373 7,348 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

From 1840 to 1970, the county had a marked decline in population, from 9,257 people to 5,199 people. This was primarily due to freed slaves moving north and fewer people needed to operate farms. Since then there has been an increase in the population, to an estimated 7,370 people in the year 2019. In that year, 16% of people were age 17 years or younger, 56% were age 18–64 years, and 28% were age 65 years or older. It was also estimated that 92.4% of residents were white, 4.2% were African American, and 3.4% were other or mixed races.[20]

Rappahannock residents are among the oldest in Virginia, with a median age of 47.5 years in 2010; this is about 11 years greater than the U.S. as a whole. The 2010 census found 19% of residents were age 65 and older, which is a marked increase over the 2000 census finding of 14%. Provisional estimates for the year 2019 indicate that this percentage has increased further, to 28% of the county population.[21] The population of the county is widely dispersed, with a density of only 27.9 people per square mile, ranking it 122nd among Virginia's 132 cities and counties in population density.

It was estimated that there were 2,976 households in Rappahannock County in 2017, with an average of 2.5 persons per household. Almost all housing in the county is composed of single-family homes. Between 1960 and 2010, the number of housing units more than doubled. In 2017, it was estimated that there were 3,945 housing units, 79% of which were occupied year-round and 14% of which were seasonal units. The owner-occupied housing rate was 74%.[22]

The county has been populated by three waves: those who've lived in the county for many generations, those who started coming to the county in the 1960s and 1970s as young adults, and retirees and weekenders who decided to settle in the county since about 1990. The poor, near poor, middle income, and wealthy all live scrambled together. “All seem to appreciate the beauty and quiet of the county, its family farms, the quality of its rivers and streams, and the unblemished views of the night skies.”[23]


Like many counties in Virginia, Rappahannock County is governed by a Board of Supervisors who serve staggered 4-year terms. Voters in each of the five districts of the county elect one member of the Board; the chair of the Board is chosen by the five supervisors. The Board handles policy issues, sets the budget, and appoints a county administrator to handle the county government's day-to-day operations.

Over the years, the Board of Supervisors of Rappahannock County has kept a tight rein on spending. In fiscal year July 2020-June 2021, the county government budget was $26.6 million, of which 50% was designated for education of students in the two public schools. Other expenditure categories included 10.7% for county government expenses, 9.5% for public safety, 5.5% for fire and emergency medical services, 2.4% for refuse disposal, 1.4% for the public library, and 0.1% for parks and recreation. Some of the county's expenses were supplemented by state, federal, and grant funding.

Taxes on real estate ($13.3 million) and personal property ($1.4 million) comprised 55% of county revenues in 2020–2021. The absence of a commercial tax base has resulted in high taxes for homeowners. The county does not have manufacturing, large box stores, and other similar commercial establishments and hence has a commercial tax base of only about $700,000.[24]

Board Of Supervisors

  • Debbie Donehey – Chair (Wakefield District)
  • Christine Smith – (Piedmont District)
  • Van Carney – (Stonewall-Hawthorne District)
  • Keir Whitson – Vice-Chair (Hampton District)
  • Ron Frazier – (Jackson District)


Rappahannock County invariably leans toward the Republican Party, doing so every election since 1980. However, parts of Sperryville are quite culturally liberal.

United States presidential election results for Rappahannock County, Virginia[25]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 2,812 56.49% 2,096 42.11% 70 1.41%
2016 2,539 56.64% 1,747 38.97% 197 4.39%
2012 2,311 53.04% 1,980 45.44% 66 1.51%
2008 2,227 50.56% 2,105 47.79% 73 1.66%
2004 2,172 53.63% 1,837 45.36% 41 1.01%
2000 1,850 52.66% 1,462 41.62% 201 5.72%
1996 1,505 47.31% 1,405 44.17% 271 8.52%
1992 1,410 44.33% 1,273 40.02% 498 15.66%
1988 1,657 61.69% 1,003 37.34% 26 0.97%
1984 1,696 62.65% 999 36.90% 12 0.44%
1980 1,179 49.81% 1,055 44.57% 133 5.62%
1976 881 44.47% 1,071 54.06% 29 1.46%
1972 1,055 68.20% 471 30.45% 21 1.36%
1968 594 43.58% 394 28.91% 375 27.51%
1964 449 39.84% 675 59.89% 3 0.27%
1960 426 43.69% 544 55.79% 5 0.51%
1956 514 47.81% 523 48.65% 38 3.53%
1952 619 54.35% 518 45.48% 2 0.18%
1948 311 30.08% 617 59.67% 106 10.25%
1944 297 37.26% 497 62.36% 3 0.38%
1940 225 27.57% 588 72.06% 3 0.37%
1936 241 25.97% 686 73.92% 1 0.11%
1932 124 17.22% 590 81.94% 6 0.83%
1928 329 39.07% 513 60.93% 0 0.00%
1924 89 17.62% 395 78.22% 21 4.16%
1920 210 33.33% 418 66.35% 2 0.32%
1916 84 17.07% 401 81.50% 7 1.42%
1912 94 19.83% 356 75.11% 24 5.06%


Historically, the county has had a rural economy based on agriculture. However, present day agriculture has been influenced by significant removal of land from farming. Between 1949 and 1974, the total number of farms declined about 63%, from 687 to 257 farms. This trend showed a slow reverse and in 2017 there were 439 farms in the county, although only 86 farms contained 180 acres or more. Almost all are family farms. Some farmers don't own the land they farm, but lease it from owners who are content to have pastures maintained and fences kept in good order. Cropland is primarily devoted to hay, and pastureland is primarily for beef cattle, with small amounts of land for sheep and goats.[26]

Orchard land in the county was devoted to apple production for many years, with a smaller peach crop. The production of orchard crops has sharply declined to the point where only 20 small farms still harvested apples and 10 still harvested peaches in 2017. Vineyards now occupy a small part of county farmland. Wineries, organic farms, and consumer demand for grass-fed beef have created new opportunities for farmers. Several farm operations have successfully tapped into the Washington D.C. market, selling their produce at urban farmer's markets. There are nine award-winning wineries in the county, as well as two distilleries, two breweries, and a cider and mead facility.[27][28]

Together with the decline in farms, agriculture no longer employs as high a percentage of the workforce as was once the case. In 2010, only 7% of the 3,412 employed persons were in the employment category of farming, forestry, fishing, and mining. In that year, 17% were employed in health/education, 15% in construction, 12.5% in professional/administrative occupations, 10.9% in personal/recreation services, 9.6% in retail trade, and the remainder in miscellaneous other occupations. About 19% of residents were age 65 years or older, and most of these were retired.[29]

The median family income in 2010 was $75,975; 35% of families had incomes of $100,000 or greater. Rappahannock County ranks among the top 10 wealthiest jurisdictions in Virginia. In 2017, county residents had a gross income of $265 million, but much of that wealth was concentrated in a small number of residents. The county ranks in the 17th percentile for income inequality compared to all U.S. counties. About 10% of county families are below the federal poverty level.[30][31]

There are no large private employers located in the county. Indeed, the largest is the Inn at Little Washington, a world-renowned restaurant with affiliated overnight lodging. There are no supermarkets, pharmacies, large stores, or large office buildings in the county. The absence of a commercial tax base places pressure on homeowners’ property taxes to fund the county budget. In a survey by the University of Virginia for the Foothills Forum, residents wanted the beauty, the mountain vistas, the clean rivers and the dark, starlit skies preserved, even if they must drive out of the county to shop at a supermarket or fill a prescription. About 80% of county residents surveyed ranked inadequate cellphone and internet coverage as the biggest issues facing the county. Coverage is available primarily along the main highways passing through the county or through unreliable satellite service. The Rappahannock County Broadband Authority has been established to investigate this issue.[32][33]

Land Use, Zoning, and Development

Rappahannock County contains a land area of 266.6 square miles; of this 73.7% is forests (including 49.5 square miles in Shenandoah National Park), 20.1% is pasture/farmland, and the remainder is roads and buildings and their surroundings. The main forest type is oak-hickory.[34]

One factor that has played a large role in protecting Rappahannock County's rural identity is the Virginia state law allowing tax deductions for land devoted to agricultural, horticultural, or forest uses (“land use”). By enabling property owners to significantly reduce their tax bills, the tax deferments have permitted large land owners to keep farms and forests intact, instead of needing to subdivide and sell parcels. That was the intent of the state law when it was passed in the 1970s and adopted by the county in 1982.

These tax deductions have a downside, in that they significantly reduce the county's revenue. In 2017, land in the county that had a land-use deduction generated about $3.54 million in revenue. Without the deductions, the same land would have brought in more than $7.58 million in revenue. About 50% of the county's total acreage now receives a land-use tax deferment, although that represents less than one-third of the parcels of taxable land — 1,850 out of 5,840 parcels.[35][36]

Of the 266.6 square miles comprising the county, about 52.2 square miles of land has been placed in conservation easements by individual landowners, guaranteeing preservation of the integrity of the landscape, restrictions on development, and protection of water and scenic resources. An additional 49.5 square miles are located in Shenandoah National Park, which affords this land the protection of the federal government, and 130.3 square miles are in land use. This leaves only about 30.6 square miles that are not protected from development (excluding existing roads and buildings).[37][38]

Aerial view of part of Rappahannock County, Virginia

The county has a long tradition of progressive planning and policies for land use to restrict development and to maintain the rural, bucolic nature of the county. The first subdivision ordinance was enacted in 1962 and the first zoning ordinance in 1966. Land use policies are formulated by the Board of Supervisors with the advice of the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals, both of which are citizen advisory groups appointed by the Board. These and other policies are incorporated into the Rappahannock County Code. Complementing these governmental bodies are the efforts of individual citizens and local organizations such as the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection and the Piedmont Environmental Council.

The 25-acre zoning restriction for land parcels outside the villages has clearly become a defining feature of Rappahannock, one that distinguishes it as a rural oasis in a region of hyper-development. Many residents believe that strict zoning and density ordinances have slowed population growth and spared Rappahannock “the environmentally destructive growth we see in the counties around us. We take credit for comprehensive planning happening here before it was required.”[39]


Education was provided by private schools during the 1800s until mandatory public education was instituted by the Underwood Constitution of 1869–1870, which resulted in the creation of 14 white and 7 black primary education schools in Rappahannock County. High schools for whites were established in the town of Washington and the village of Sperryville in 1908–1909; black students were bussed out of the county to the Manassas Industrial Institute and the George Washington Carver school.[40]

In 2017–2018, the Rappahannock County Public Schools District served about 812 students in grades preK through 12 at one elementary school and one high school. The graduation rate was 94%, and 80% of graduates continued their education after completing high school. Per pupil expenditures were $14,406. Of this, 80% was derived from local taxes and only 20% from the State. Overall in Virginia, the State contributes 55% to counties for education. Rappahannock County's Local Composite Index, an indicator used to allocate State aid to school districts, was 11th highest in Virginia, resulting in extreme limitations on State aid for education in the county. The Local Composite Index uses the true value of real estate in its computation, whereas most Rappahannock County land is under land use or conservation easements and is taxed at significantly less than true value. The large proportion of education costs derived from local real estate taxes is symptomatic of the fact that there are no large businesses in the county.[41][42][43][44]

There are also four private schools in the county. In 2018, Wakefield Country Day School served 150 students, Hearthstone School served 50 students, Belle Meade Montessori School served 25 students, and the Child Care and Learning Center served 65 children. About 60 county children were home-schooled.[45]

Although there is no large higher education facility in the county, the Rapp Center for Education is a non-profit organization committed to lifelong learning and workforce training and is registered with the State Council for Higher Education. Knowledgeable residents of the county teach numerous courses in their particular specialties through this facility. Healthcare training is provided toward certification as a Clinical Medical Assistant, Radiography Technician, and Pharmacy Technician. Courses are also taught on Information Technology knowledge and skills to help people develop a broader understanding of IT.


There is one incorporated town (Washington) and five village settlements in the county (Chester Gap, Flint Hill, Amissville, Sperryville, and Woodville). The villages have no defined legal boundaries and are characterized generally by having a rural post office and general store, older homes, one or more houses of worship, service stations, and small commercial establishments.


Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Community facilities and activities

There are no stoplights in Rappahannock County, making it the only county in Virginia without them. There are also no large stores, franchise fast-food places, or sprawling subdivisions in the county.

The county maintains one public library, located in the central part of the county, managed by three employees and a nine-member Board of Trustees. In 2020, there were 3,349 library card holders, circulation was 22,245, and there were 16,768 individual uses of the library's WiFi; the latter statistic is indicative of the lack of internet service to the county. The operating budget for the library was $315,857, of which the county provided 66%, the State provided 15%, and 19% was from endowment and other sources.[46]

In nighttime photos taken from space, the county is one of the few conspicuous dark spots amid a blaze of lights illuminating the East Coast from Miami to Maine. It is one of the last places on the East Coast with a view of the Milky Way. In 2019, the Rappahannock County Park was certified as an International Dark-Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. It is the third Virginia park to receive a Dark-Sky Park designation, the other two being state parks. Rappahannock County Park is also the third county park in the U.S. to be awarded this honor. Throughout the year, multiple lectures and dark sky viewing events are held during evenings in the Park.[47]

There are seven volunteer fire and rescue companies in the county. Amissville, Castleton, Chester Gap, Flint Hill, and Washington handle both fire and ambulance calls; Sperryville has separate squads. None of the members of these squads have paid positions. The county is served by the weekly Rappahannock News newspaper. The county seat of Washington is home to the three Michelin Star Inn at Little Washington. Thirty-five churches are located in the county, although many of these have small congregations. There are two medical facilities. The Rappahannock Historical Society, founded in 1964 and located in the town of Washington, serves as a resource for historical and genealogical information about the county.

Local support for the arts is provided through the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community. The annual Rappahannock County Arts Tour provides an opportunity to visit artists in their studios. There are three performing arts theaters: the Theatre at Washington, Virginia, the RAAC Community Theater, and the Theater House at Castleton Farms, founded by the late Lorin Maazel which features the Castleton Chamber Players and the Castleton Music Festival. The nationally renowned Kid Pan Alley originated in and is still based in the county. Rappahannock Radio interviews members of the local community and beyond.

Other amusements and events include a 9-hole golf course; the annual Fodderstack 10K race; Sperryfest street fair featuring the Great Rubber Duck Race Down the Thornton River; Oktoberfest held in Sperryville, a collaborative effort by local farms, breweries, and businesses involving beer and food prepared and served by the brewers and farmers of the county; the annual Rappahannock Farm Tour; the annual Artists of Rappahannock tour of artists’ studios; Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point races; the Amissville carnival and parade; Rappahannock Rough Ride for bicyclists; John Jackson Piedmont Blues festival; Fourth of July celebration and fireworks; and Christmas in Little Washington parade and festivities.

Recreation in Rappahannock County includes fishing, horseback riding, camping, hiking, and canoeing, particularly in Shenandoah National Park. The Sperryville Community Alliance has created two walking trails along the Thornton River. Three foxhunting associations are active in the county, the Rappahannock Hunt, the Old Dominion Hounds, and the Thornton Hill Hounds. Hunting is a popular activity, and in 2020 there were 23 bears and 1,848 white-tailed deer harvested in the county.[48]

The county is a popular tourist site. A 31-item Civil War Trails markers system is located throughout the county.

Notable people

  • Kevin H. Adams, artist; former Combat Artist in the U.S. Marine Corps; artist in residence at Shenandoah National Park
  • Charles T. "Chuck" Akre, investor, financier and businessman; founder, chairman, and chief investment officer of Akre Capital Management, FBR Focus, and other funds
  • Ned Bittinger, portrait painter and illustrator[49]
  • Jane Bowling-Wilson, executive director, Northern Piedmont Community Foundation
  • Fred Catlin, founder of Albemarle Montessori Children's Community of Charlottesville, Virginia; mayor of the town of Washington, Virginia
  • William Dietel, international philanthropic consultant and co-founder of the Foothills Forum
  • Edward Dolnick, nonfiction author
  • Frederick Hart, American sculptor [49]
  • John Jacquemin, CEO, Mooring Financial Corporation; director, Penn National Gaming
  • Ben Jones, former U.S. representative from Georgia; played Cooter on the television show, The Dukes of Hazzard
  • James Kilpatrick, former columnist[49]
  • John W. Kiser, nonfiction author
  • Peter Kramer, woodworker, furniture designer, renovation specialist, and former mayor of the town of Washington
  • Lorin Maazel, Pittsburgh Symphony director[49]
  • Ronald F. Maxwell, film director and screenwriter whose films include the American Civil War historical fiction films Gettysburg, Gods and Generals, and Copperhead
  • Eugene McCarthy, Former Senator[49]
  • Patrick O’Connell, chef and owner of the internationally renowned Inn at Little Washington
  • Mary Virginia Proctor, journalist, philanthropist, social activist
  • Paul Reisler, composer, songwriter, recording artist, performer, teacher, and founder and artistic director of Kid Pan Alley
  • Bob Ryan, retired chief meteorologist for national television stations
  • John Fox Sullivan, former publisher at large, Atlantic Media; former mayor of Washington, Virginia

See also


  1. ^ "Rappahannock County, Virginia", United States Census Bureau. Accessed January 30, 2022
  2. ^ King George II to Richard Cheek Jr. and William Cheek, 1000 acres, 28 September 1728, Land Office Patent Book 13, p. 321, Library of Virginia, Richmond
  3. ^ Library of Virginia, Research Notes Number 20
  4. ^ Land grants issued by agents of the English kings, by agents of the Northern Neck Proprietary, and by the Commonwealth of Virginia are housed at the Library of Virginia in Richmond and are available online
  5. ^ Maureen I. Harris, Washington, Virginia, A History, 1735-2018, Kindle Direct Publishing, 2019, ISBN 9781687007469
  6. ^ Elisabeth B. and C.E. Johnson, Rappahannock County, Virginia, A History, Green Publishers, Orange, VA, 1981
  7. ^ Lee A. Wallace, A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations, 1861-1865, ISBN 0930919300
  8. ^ Donald B. Connelly, John M. Schofield and the Politics of Generalship, University of North Carolina Press, 2006
  9. ^ Daphne Hutchinson and Theresa Reynolds, On the Morning Side of the Blue Ridge, Piedmont Press, Warrenton, VA, 2nd ed., 1994
  10. ^ National Register of Historic Places listings in Rappahannock County, Virginia
  11. ^ Information from Blake McDonald, Architectural and Cost Share Program Manager, Department of Historic Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia, July 27, 2022
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990", United States Census Bureau, 12 February 2011. Accessed 23 March 2011
  13. ^ Virginia Department of Transportation, Commonwealth Transportation Board
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing from 1790-2000", US Census Bureau. Accessed 24 January 2022
  15. ^ "Historical Census Browser", University of Virginia Library. Accessed 5 January 2014.
  16. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990", United States Census Bureau. Accessed 5 January 2014
  17. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000", United States Census Bureau. Accessed 5 January 2014. Archived 2010-03-27 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Rappahannock County, Virginia", United States Census Bureau
  19. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Rappahannock County, Virginia", United States Census Bureau
  20. ^ U.S. Census decennial censuses; U.S. Census Quick Facts,
  21. ^ Population of Rappahannock County, VA,[bare URL]
  22. ^ U.S. Census of Housing, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
  23. ^ Christopher Connell, “Foothills Forum Survey: Life in the Jewel of Virginia,” Rappahannock News, 13 April 2016, updated 9 July 2019
  24. ^ Rappahannock County, Virginia, budget for Fiscal Year 2021
  25. ^ "Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections" by David Leip. Accessed on 8 December 2020.
  26. ^ U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2017 Census of Agriculture, Rappahannock County Profile
  27. ^ Virginia Department of Agriculture
  28. ^ “The Guide to Rappahannock County, 2020-2021,” compiled by the staff of the Rappahannock News
  29. ^ U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 U.S. census for Rappahannock County
  30. ^ Virginia Department of Education, Index of Local Ability to Pay
  31. ^ Economic Policy Institute, “County shares of total national income and national top 1% income, and relative concentrations of national top 1% income, for all counties, 2015"
  32. ^ Christopher Connell, “Foothills Forum Survey, Part Two: A rural life challenged,” Rappahannock News, 20 April 2016, updated 9 July 2019
  33. ^ Rachel Needham, “Authority looks to find ‘future-proof’ solutions for county broadband hardships,” Rappahannock News, 18 March 2021
  34. ^ Virginia Department of Forestry; National Land Cover Database)
  35. ^ Rappahannock County Commissioner of Revenue reports
  36. ^ Randy Rieland, “Foothills Forum Special Report: The Land, a Plan, a Future,” Rappahannock News, 9 March 2017
  37. ^ Piedmont Environmental Council, The Piedmont View newsletter, Spring 2021
  38. ^ Tim Carrington, “Rappahannock budget and allocation,” Rappahannock News, March 18, 2021, p.12-13
  39. ^ Quote from Philip Irwin, founding member of the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection and the Piedmont Environmental Council, in Christopher Connell, “Foothills Forum Survey, Part Three: Frozen in time,” Rappahannock News, 28 April 2016, updated 9 July 2019
  40. ^ 1870 Constitution of Virginia
  41. ^ School Superintendent’s Annual Reports for Virginia
  42. ^ "COMPOSITE INDEX OF LOCAL ABILITY TO PAY", Virginia Department of Education. Archived 25 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ Rappahannock County budget
  44. ^ Tim Carrington, “Rappahannock budget and allocation,” Rappahannock News, 18 March 2021, p.12-13
  45. ^ Rappahannock County School Administration reports
  46. ^ FY2020 Activity Report for the Rappahannock County Public Library
  47. ^ "Rappahannock County Park (U.S.) ", Rappahannock News, 8 March 2019
  48. ^ Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
  49. ^ a b c d e Rod Fensom, Illinois : off the beaten path, Globe Pequot Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0-87106-474-5

External links

38°41′N 78°10′W / 38.69°N 78.17°W / 38.69; -78.17

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