Treasures from three centuries can be seen at the James River Plantations along Virginia's scenic Route 5 in Charles City County.
The county, strategically located between the James and Chickahominy Rivers and close to the colonial capitals of Jamestown and Williamsburg, was the first westward expansion of English-speaking America.
It was established in 1619 and its plantations and farms along the James River have survived the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the War Between the States. The county's gracious manor houses, all privately owned and preserved National Register properties, are open for visitors to experience and enjoy.
Despite its proximity to historic Williamsburg and to Richmond, the capital of Virginia, Charles City has remained a rural oasis. Extensive timberlands, tidal waters and marshes, and thousands of acres of richly cultivated farmland are preserved here.
The heart of the community is its early l8th-century courthouse, a 250-year-old cultural link between past and present.
Charles City has been home to Indians and early settlers, planters, signers of the Declaration of Independence, Presidents, slaves, emancipators and free blacks, educators and agriculturalists. Descendants of these significant figures in American history still live in the county today.
Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler were born and lived here. General Robert E. Lee spent much of his childhood here. Agriculturist Edmund Ruffin, who fired the first shot of the Civil War, practiced his innovative techniques on Charles City soil. Lott Cary, the first black American missionary to Africa and founding father of Liberia, was born here. One of the first free black communities in America was located in Charles City, as well as the third oldest organized free black church.
Charles City County -- its beauty, history and tradition make it a must stop on any Virginia tour. From restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts to simple riverside picnics, biking, and walking tours, Charles City County has it all.
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