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The Journal’s Potomac River Festival, May 2013

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Virginia’s Northern Neck At-a-Glance Originally inhabited by eight separate Virginia Indian tribes who established villages along its shores, Virginia’s Northern Neck is one of the most historic regions in Virginia. In 1608, our first tourist, Captain John Smith, referred to it “as a place heaven and earth never agreed better to frame man’s habitation.” This peninsula, nestled between the Potomac and the Rappahannock Rivers, and spilling into the Chesapeake Bay, was part of the enormous 1649 land grant by Charles II, known as the Fairfax Grant. The bountiful waters of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay, supported and induced English settlement. The English built stately homes and farmed tobacco for export to England, which became the basis of the Northern Neck’s economy during the Colonial era. The Northern Neck’s most famous son, George Washington, born on Pope’s Creek off of the Potomac River, called the region “the Garden of Virginia.” James Madison, fourth president of the United States, was

born at Port Conway in King George County in 1751 at his grandparents’ home, Belle Grove. Our nation’s fifth president, James Monroe, was born in Westmoreland County in 1758. The Lee family of Virginia called the Northern Neck home and built Stratford Hall in the 1730s, of bricks fired from the clay soil on the premises. A son of Thomas Lee, Richard Henry Lee, co-wrote the Westmoreland Resolves, which proposed American independence in 1766 in protest against the Stamp Act. Richard Henry Lee and his brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee, were the only two brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence. The last Lee to survive to maturity born at Stratford Hall was Robert E. Lee, born in 1807. During the Steamboat Era, from 1813 to 1927, the Northern Neck utilized the network of about 600 steamboats to move people and products throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. In addition to facilitating trade of local produce, sea-

food and tobacco for manufactured goods, spices, and fruits, the steamboat made the Northern Neck more accessible to Baltimore and provided the residents with entertainment from the James Adams Floating Theater that circulated to ports of call throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. In more recent times, the waters of the Potomac River, Rappahannock River, the Chesapeake Bay and their tributaries provide a haven for boaters and water enthusiasts, and have supported a fishing industry for generations. Presently, Colonial architecture, small-town charm, bed & breakfast inns, ten wineries, seventeen museums, historic sites, marinas and retail shops are among the valuable assets that attract visitors to the area. For more information on enjoying the history and heritage of the Northern Neck, contact the Northern Neck Tourism Commission on the web at northernneck.org, by phone: 804.333.1919 or by email: nntc@northernneck.org.

Discover the Northern Neck of Virginia. Travel its highways and byways. Enjoy its food. Try some of its great oysters Colonial Beach Village

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