Rockingham County, Virginia
Seal of Rockingham County, Virginia
Map of Virginia highlighting Rockingham County
Location in the state of Virginia
Map of the U.S. highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
Founded 1778
Seat Harrisonburg
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

853 sq mi (2,209 km²)
851 sq mi (2,204 km²)
2 sq mi (5 km²), 0.25%
 -  Density

80/sq mi (31/km²)

View of Rockingham County from Massanutten Mountain (looking west)

Rockingham County is a county located in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of 2010, the population was 76,314. Its county seat is Harrisonburg[1]. Rockingham County is included in the Harrisonburg, Virginia, Metropolitan Statistical Area and is home of the Rockingham County Baseball League.


Settlement of the County began in 1727, when Adam Miller (Mueller) staked out a claim on the south fork of the Shenandoah River, near the line that now divides Rockingham County from Page County.[2][3][4][5] On a trip through eastern Virginia, the German-born Miller had heard reports about a lush Valley to the west which had been discovered by Governor Alexander Spotswood's legendary Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition, and then moved his family down from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.[6][7][8] In 1741, Miller purchased 820 acres (3.32 km2), including a large lithia spring, near Elkton, VA, and lived on this property for the remainder of his life.[9][10]

Much-increased settlement of this portion of the Colony of Virginia by Europeans began in the 1740s and 1750s. Standing between the Tidewater and Piedmont regions to the east in Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley and the area beyond (known in old Virginia as the "Transmountaine") were the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rather than cross such a formidable physical barrier, most early settlers came southerly up the Valley across the Potomac River from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Many followed the Great Wagon Trail, also known as the Valley Pike (U.S. Route 11 in modern times).

Rockingham County was established in 1778 from Augusta County. Harrisonburg was named as the county seat and incorporated as a town in 1780 (later becoming an independent city, although remaining the county seat).[11]

The county is named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, a British statesman (1730–1782). He was Prime Minister of Great Britain twice, and a keen supporter of constitutional rights for the colonists. During his first term, repealed the Stamp Act of 1765, reducing the tax burden on the colonies. Appointed again in 1782, upon taking office, he backed the claim for the independence of the Thirteen Colonies, initiating an end to British involvement in the American Revolutionary War. However, he died after only 14 weeks in office.

By 1778, it was unusual to honor British officials in Virginia, fighting for its independence. The same year, immediately to the north of Rockingham County, Dunmore County, named for Virginia's last Royal Governor, John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, an unpopular figure was renamed. The new name, Shenandoah County, used a Native American name.

However, long their political supporter in the British Parliament, the Marquess of Rockingham was a popular figure with the citizens of the new United States. Also named in his honor were Rockingham County, New Hampshire, Rockingham County, North Carolina, and the City of Rockingham in Richmond County, North Carolina.

Rockingham County is the birthplace of Thomas Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s father.[12]


Rockingham County is the third largest county in Virginia.[13] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 853 square miles (2,210 km²), of which 851 square miles (2,204 km²) is land and 2 square miles (6 km²) (0.25%) is water. Large portions of the county fall within the Shenandoah National Park to the east and George Washington National Forest to the west, and therefore are subject to development restrictions. The county stretches west to east from the peaks of eastern-most Alleghany mountains to the peaks of the Blue Ridge mountains, encompassing the entire width of the Shenandoah Valley. Rockingham is bi-sected by another geographic formation, Massanutten Mountain stretching from just east of Harrisonburg, VA to a few miles southwest of Front Royal, VA in Warren County, VA. Massanutten Mountain splits the central Shenandoah Valley as the German River and the North Fork of the Shenandoah River flow on its western side and the South Fork flows on the eastern.

Adjacent counties[]

National protected areas[]

  • George Washington National Forest (part)
  • Shenandoah National Park (part)


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 7,449
1800 10,374 39.3%
1810 12,753 22.9%
1820 14,784 15.9%
1830 20,683 39.9%
1840 17,344 −16.1%
1850 20,294 17.0%
1860 23,408 15.3%
1870 23,668 1.1%
1880 29,567 24.9%
1890 31,299 5.9%
1900 33,527 7.1%
1910 34,903 4.1%
1920 30,047 −13.9%
1930 29,709 −1.1%
1940 31,289 5.3%
1950 35,079 12.1%
1960 40,485 15.4%
1970 47,890 18.3%
1980 57,038 19.1%
1990 57,482 0.8%
2000 67,725 17.8%
2010 76,314 12.7%

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 67,725 people, 25,355 households, and 18,889 families residing in the county. The population density was 80 people per square mile (31/km²). There were 27,328 housing units at an average density of 32 per square mile (12/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.58% White, 1.36% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.90% from other races, and 0.73% from two or more races. 3.28% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 25,355 households out of which 32.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.40% were married couples living together, 7.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.50% were non-families. 21.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.60% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 28.90% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 97.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,748, and the median income for a family was $46,262. Males had a median income of $30,618 versus $21,896 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,795. About 5.30% of families and 8.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.10% of those under age 18 and 9.70% of those age 65 or over.


For public schools, see Rockingham County Public Schools

Colleges and universities[]

  • Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave, Virginia
  • Bridgewater College Bridgewater, Virginia
  • Eastern Mennonite University Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • James Madison University Harrisonburg, Virginia

Points of interest[]

Two Turkey statues, one at either end of Route 11 signal that you are in the "Turkey Capital." Rockingham County is the leader of Virginia in poultry production. Rockingham County is also home to a large section of the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive with an entrance point at Swift Run Gap. Boasting numerous hiking and walking trails as well as scenic overlooks and waterfalls, the park is one of the focal points of Shenandoah Valley tourism. The county also is home to a large section of the George Washington National Forest offering camping and outdoor activity. Massanutten Resort offers two golf courses, an indoor water park, as well as seasonal skiing, mountain biking and river rafting. Two Civil War battles took place in Rockingham County, one at Cross Keys just southeast of Harrisonburg, VA, and another at Port Republic along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River just north of Grottoes, VA.


Incorporated Towns[]

  • Bridgewater
  • Broadway
  • Dayton
  • Elkton
  • Grottoes
  • Mount Crawford
  • Timberville

Unincorporated Communities[]

  • Bergton
  • Berrytown
  • Briery Branch
  • Clover Hill
  • Cootes Store
  • Criders
  • Cross Keys
  • Dale Enterprise
  • Edom
  • Fulks Run
  • Hinton
  • Inglewood
  • Keezletown
  • Lacey Spring
  • Linville
  • Lilly
  • Massanutten
  • Mauzy
  • Mayland
  • McGaheysville
  • Montezuma
  • Mount Clinton
  • Penn Laird
  • Pleasant Valley
  • Port Republic
  • Rawley Springs
  • Singers Glen
  • Stemphleytown
  • Tenth Legion
  • Turleytown
  • Yankeetown

Independent city[]

Since it became an independent city, Harrisonburg is no longer politically located in Rockingham County, despite its status as the county seat.



Rockingham County is principally served by Norfolk Southern Railway, a (major) Class 1 railroad and additionally, by the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, a short-line railroad.


Interstate 81 runs north-south and meets east-west Interstate 64 near Staunton to the south in adjacent Augusta County.

There are three major Primary State Highways in the county. (A primary road provides service which is relatively continuous and of relatively high traffic volume, long average trip length, high operating speed and high mobility importance).[15] Interstate highways and primary highways in Virginia are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

These primary state highways are:

  • U.S. Route 11 a north-south roadway which Interstate 81 parallels, U.S. Route 11 follows an old Native American trail, later known as the Valley Turnpike.
  • U.S. Route 33 is an east-west road which extends from a mountain ridge border with West Virginia across the Shenandoah Valley through Harrisonburg and Elkton. East of there, it climbs the western slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains to reach Swift Run Gap, a wind gap located at an elevation of 2,365 feet (721 m). The bucolic Skyline Drive, which is part of Shenandoah National Park, has an entry point at Swift Run Gap and the Appalachian Trail also passes through nearby. The mountain ridge forms the border between Rockingham County and Greene County. (U.S. 33 continues east to Richmond).
  • U.S. Route 340 in a north-south roadway which runs along the western slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Valley.

Secondary roads: As provided by the Byrd Road Act of 1932, secondary roads in Rockingham County are also maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Rockingham County, Virginia
  • Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ Wayland, John, “A History of Rockingham County, Virginia,” 1912: Ruebush-Elkins Co, Dayton, VA, pp 33-37
  3. ^ “The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography” Vol X – No 1, July 1902, The Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA, pp 84-86
  4. ^ Strickler, Harry, “A Short History of Page County Virginia” 1952: The Dietz Press, Richmond VA, pps 50-51
  5. ^ Wayland, John, “The German Element in the Shenandoah Valley,” 1907: Michie Company Printers, Charlottesville, VA, p 38-39
  6. ^ Wayland, John “A History of Rockingham County, Virginia,” p 37
  7. ^ “ The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography," pp 84-86
  8. ^ Wayland, “The German Element in the Shenandoah Valley,” (The Michie Company, Charlottesville, VA, 1907)p 38-39
  9. ^ Wayland, John, “Virginia Valley Records,” 1996: Clearfield Co, Baltimore, MD, pp 311-312
  10. ^ Wayland, “The German Element in the Shenandoah Valley,” p 42
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  15. ^

External links[]

Coordinates: 38°31′N 78°53′W / 38.52, -78.88

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