Northumberland County is called the Mother County of the Northern Neck.
Settled by the English in 1648, Northumberland was officially established by an act of the Burgesses in Jamestown in 1648. It was later divided into three additional counties, Lancaster, Richmond and Westmoreland Counties.
At its heart is Heathsville, the county seat. Located between the headwaters of the Coan and the Great Wicomico rivers, in 1679 it was chosen as the site of the county courthouse. The building was completed and county justices were moved in 1681.
In 1797, citizens established a 20-acre town around the courthouse square naming it in honor of citizen leader John Heath who lived just down the road at Springfield, an historic plantation mansion still standing and occupied today.
In 1992, the National Register of Historic Places designated Heathsville an Historic District, along with the original courthouse and tavern, now a restaurant, gift shop and museum. The courthouse square also includes a blacksmith shop, transportation museum, old jail and carriage house.
Northumberland was once dependent upon tobacco as its major cash crop and currency. Later, most of its residents relied on the water for their livelihoods. Today, there are many charter boat captains. And cruises, like those to Tangier and Smith Island, are major tourist attractions.
The quaint fishing village of Reedville, with its “Millionaire’s Row” of Victorian homes, remains a tribute to the area’s heritage. The Reedville Fisherman’s Museum provides a comprehensive overview of the village’s fishing industry, both past and current.
Burgess is home to the Northern Neck Farm Museum, which features the area’s agricultural history, from the Indians who roamed the lands to the large commercial canneries that once lined the shores. Visitors can learn about agriculture, view the tools that assisted the farmers and learn the impact of these industries on the people of this region.
With more than 556 miles of scenic shoreline, more than 12,300 call Northumberland County home.
The Northumberland County seat is on Rt. 360 in Heathsville. 580-7666 or co.northumberland.va.us. The sheriff’s office can be reached at 580-5221.
Northumberland Public Library is at 7204 Northumberland Highway in Heathsville, 580-5051. High speed wireless internet access available.
The Northumberland County Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center,129 Northumberland Hwy. (Rt. 360) in Callao is open Wed., Thurs. and Sat., 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 529-5031.
May 9: Free Safe Boating Class, Northumberland County Rescue Squad building, Reedville.
May 16: Heathsville Farmers Market, Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern, Heathsville.