What’s the ‘Northern Neck?’


“Dawn at Colonial Beach,” photographed by Mary Lynne Wolfe, is a Honorable Mention winner in the Rivers and Waterways Category of Scenic Virginia’s 2017 Virginia Vistas Photo Contest.

This history-laden peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers has impact. Impact because of the Washington and Lee families who settled here, built homes, farmed tobacco, and raised families who grew up to chart the course of our nation’s development. Impact that predates John Smith’s 1608 explorations when the Virginia Indians encountered Smith’s shallop, or sailing barge, in the Northern Neck’s numerous navigable creeks and along the rivers. Early impact that started about 35 million years ago when the Chesapeake Impact Crater was formed by a hit from a mountain-sized meteorite off the coast of Virginia to create the Chesapeake Bay.

Reedville was once the wealthiest town per capita in the United States, and the number one “port for tonnage” of fish landed for 125 years in the country.

And now, the Virginia Indians are gone from the Northern Neck, but English settlers kept their names on their villages, creeks, and rivers. The dense quiet woods that provided the resource for the early log homes later propelled the timber industry, when sawmills dotted the area. The mill ponds remain, which bear the names of old families whose descendants live here today, and appear unexpectedly around curves on scenic drives through the Northern Neck and provide mirror-like reflections of the surrounding forests.

Come visit our historic B&Bs, see African-American schools (1800s-1970) that continue to educate about the African-American journey, stroll in our downtowns, and get some great seafood, and then pair it with your favorite local wine, or craft beer from two local breweries.

The Northern Neck is about an hour and a half from Richmond, and three hours from the Washington metropolitan area. To plan your trip to Virginia’s Northern Neck, visit northernneck.org, or call 804.333.1919.

Driving Tour – Spotlight on King George County

Tour and stay overnight at the historic Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast on the banks of the Rappahannock River at Port Conway. Birthplace of President James Madis on, this plantation offers world class lodging and a central point for exploring the area. Visit the King George County Historical Society & Museum and the Dahlgren Heritage Museum for local history, heritage and culture. Take a picnic lunch and hike the trails at Caledon State, a National Natural Landmark known for its old growth forest and home to one of the largest concentrations of American bald eagles on the East Coast.

Check out Unique Antiques Mall on Route 301 for a wide variety of antiques and collectibles before heading to Oak Crest Vineyards for a wine-tasting experience and maybe an afternoon snack of their delicious chees and sausage selections.


The Crew of the John Smith Shallop at the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum.


Near the Chesapeake Bay, Reedville is an historic fishing village founded in the 1860s by Elijah Reed from Maine, and is home to a thriving menhaden commercial fishing industry. From the 1890s through the early 1900s, Reedville was the wealthiest town per capita in the United States, and the number one “port for tonnage” of fish landed for 125 years in the country. Reedville’s wealth is manifested today by the Victorian mansions that line its Main Street, called “Millionaires’ or Captains’ Row.”

Several sport fishing charters are available for the recreational fisherman. The Reedville Fishermen’s Museum is located in the center of the town’s historic district and houses a replica of the John Smith Shallop, “Spirit of 1608”, and several Chesapeake Bay workboats.

The 4th of July is always celebrated with a community parade and fireworks. Other annual events include a Wooden and Antique Boat Show in September, an Oyster Roast, a great Christmas Tour with a tablescape exhibit, and Model Train exhibit. Reedville is located near the Tangier and Smith Island Cruises, with three wineries, numerous restaurants, a motel and bed & breakfasts, golf courses and historical attractions nearby.


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