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Our History

King George County, as we know it, is the product of geography, climate, and hundreds of years of evolution, revolution, invention, and man’s desire for convenience and self-betterment.

King George is part of the northernmost of Virginia’s three large peninsulas (The Northern Neck). Originally populated by American Indian tribes, the Northern Neck was claimed by the King of England and awarded by a grant to the Virginia company. After his explorations in 1608, Captain John Smith wrote of the Northern Neck, “Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation; were it fully matured and inhabited by industrious people. Here are mountains, hills, plains, valleys, rivers, and brooks, all running most pleasantly into a fair Baye, compassed but fort he mouth, fruitful and delightsome land.”

Over the years, the land known as the Northern Neck was subdivided into several counties. King George was split off from Richmond County and established as a self-governing entity in 1720 when it became apparent to the Virginia House of Burgesses that it was inconvenient for the residents of the upper reaches of Richmond county to travel sometimes more than 60 miles on foot, horseback and/or by boat to the Richmond County Court House on court days and for other important meetings.

Originally bounded on the east by Richmond County, on the west by what is now the Stafford/Fauquier county line, on the south by the Rappahannock River and, on the north, by a line approximately following today’s Virginia Route 3 (Kings Highway), the boundaries were again adjusted in 1777 when it was decided that residents of King George and Stafford would be better served if both counties had access to the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.

Over the years, with the flourishing tobacco trade, the population grew and major ports grew up along the Rappahannock in such places as Leedstown, Wilmont, Greenlaw’s Wharf, and Falmouth to serve the import and export needs of the growing community. With over-farming of the land and the resulting decline of the tobacco trade, and with the improvement of the highway system, all of these ports closed, and virtually all commerce throughout the Northern Neck is now conducted via truck along the King’s Highway.

Along the King Highway and the various roads that spanned the county; stores, post offices, churches, and schools were established to serve the needs of the community; often located only a few miles apart because inland travel was originally on foot, on horseback, or by buggy. this is evidenced by the fact that, in the early 1900s, there were more than 20 schools in King George County alone. With improved roads, and the advent of the automobile, transportation is much easier and the school system is limited to 5 large schools;

In 1918, the importance of geography to King George once again became evident when the U.S. War Department identified that the area along Machodoc Creek in King George would be a perfect area in which to locate a new facility for testing new naval artillery. This testing facility, the Naval Surface Weapons Center – Dahlgren, has since grown into one of the foremost military research and development facilities in the United States; with the world’s longest down-river weapons test range.

With the growth of Dahlgren, the construction of bridges across the Rappahannock and Potomac in the 1900s, and the continued improvement of the highway system, and the extension of freight train service into King George, the area is once again flourishing. Over ten thousand people are either employed by or in businesses related to NSF Dahlgren. In 2018 King George is celebrating its centennial with a “Century of Innovation”.

Agribusiness, mining, and various manufacturing ventures have been established in the area. Rappahannock community college and the University of Mary Washington have established extension campuses in the county. New medical facilities, retail stores, and restaurants are being established every year and new homes are being built every year.

Located on the westernmost boundary of the Northern Neck of Virginia (what has been termed the Cradle of America, and the Birthplace of Presidents(s), between two navigable and historic rivers, at the intersection fo the Kings Highway and U.S. Route 301, halfway between Richmond and Washington; King George has been, and remains, at the center of many of the events that shaped and that continue to shape our country.

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Events

Come Visit King George County

Explore the natural beauty of this historic county. Enjoy a variety of water sports including kayaking, canoeing, jet and water skiing, paddle boarding, boating, fishing, crabbing or just sunbathing on the historic Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. Watch Eagles soar at Caledon, hike, jog or cycle on the 15 mile Heritage Railroad.

Want to know what events are happening in King George County? View our upcoming events calendar!