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Culpeper, Virginia facts for kids

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Culpeper, Virginia
Downtown Culpeper
Downtown Culpeper
Official seal of Culpeper, Virginia
"Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future"
Location in Virginia
Location in Virginia
Country United States
State Virginia
County Culpeper
Founded 1759
 • Total 7.31 sq mi (18.94 km2)
 • Land 7.27 sq mi (18.83 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.11 km2)
413 ft (126 m)
 • Total 20,062
 • Density 2,759.56/sq mi (1,065.43/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
22701, 22735
Area code(s) 540
FIPS code 51-20752
GNIS feature ID 1498471

Culpeper (formerly Culpeper Courthouse, earlier Fairfax) is the only incorporated town in Culpeper County, Virginia, United States. The population was 20,062 at the 2020 census, up from 16,379 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Culpeper County.


Culpeper is located at 38°28′19″N 77°59′57″W / 38.47194°N 77.99917°W / 38.47194; -77.99917 (38.471915, −77.999168).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 6.8 square miles (17.5 km²), of which 6.7 square miles (17.4 km²) is land and 0.04 square mile (0.1 km²) (0.44%) is water.


After forming Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1748, the Virginia House of Burgesses voted to establish the Town of Fairfax on February 22, 1759. The name honored Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who was proprietor of the Northern Neck, a vast domain north of the Rappahannock River; his territory was then defined as stretching from Chesapeake Bay to what is now Hampshire County, West Virginia.

The original plan of the town called for ten blocks, which form the core of Culpeper's downtown area today. The original town was surveyed by a young George Washington. In 1795, the town received a post office under the name Culpeper Court House, although most maps continued to show the Fairfax name. The confusion resulting from the difference in official and postal names, coupled with the existence of Fairfax Court House and Fairfax Station post offices in Fairfax County, was finally resolved when the Virginia Assembly formally renamed the town Culpeper in 1869 (Acts, 1869–1870, chapter 118, page 154).

During the American Revolutionary War, the Culpeper Minutemen, a pro-Independence militia, formed in the town of Culpeper. They organized in what was then known as "Clayton's Old Field," near today's Yowell Meadow Park.

During the Civil War, Culpeper was a crossroads for a number of armies marching through central Virginia, with both Union and Confederate forces occupying the town by turn. In the heart of downtown, the childhood home of Confederate General A.P. Hill stands at the corner of Main and Davis streets. One block north on Main St. (present location of Piedmont Realty) was the frame house where "The Gallant Major" John Pelham died after sustaining a wound at the battle of Kelley's Ford.

Culpeper Theater, Culpeper, VA IMG 4310
The downtown Culpeper Theater
Culpeper, VA, Presbyterian Church IMG 4311
Culpeper Presbyterian Church
Post office at Culpepper, VA IMG 4305
U.S. Post Office in Culpeper

Culpeper began to grow dramatically in the 1980s, becoming a "bedroom community" of more densely populated Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. suburbs. A growing number of residents of the town and county of Culpeper once lived and continue to work in those areas.

In 2011, East Davis Street in downtown Culpeper was named as a 2011 America's Great Place by the American Planning Association.

Downtown Culpeper was one of the communities most affected by the August 23, 2011 Virginia earthquake. Several buildings along Main Street and East Davis Street suffered structural damage, and some have been condemned. The earthquake led to the temporary evacuation of the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, which at the time was hosting a town hall event for U.S. Senator Mark Warner. In 2014 the Museum of Culpeper History moved into the town's historic train depot.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,056
1870 1,800 70.5%
1880 1,613 −10.4%
1890 1,620 0.4%
1900 1,618 −0.1%
1910 1,796 11.0%
1920 1,819 1.3%
1930 2,379 30.8%
1940 2,316 −2.6%
1950 2,527 9.1%
1960 2,412 −4.6%
1970 6,056 151.1%
1980 6,621 9.3%
1990 8,581 29.6%
2000 9,664 12.6%
2010 16,379 69.5%
2020 20,062 22.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2010 Census, the racial makeup of the town was 61.5% White, 21.9% Black, 0.6% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, and 4.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.0% of the population.

The town's population included 25.7% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.9 males.

The median income for a household in the town was at a time $35,438, and the median income for a family was $41,894 but due to the economic downturn this has changed. Males had a median income of $28,658 versus $25,252 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,842. About 23.0% of families and 26.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.8% of those under age 18 and 22.1% of those age 65 or over.


Climate data for Culpeper, Virginia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 80
Average high °F (°C) 45
Average low °F (°C) 25
Record low °F (°C) −14
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.26


Highways directly serving Culpeper include U.S. Route 15 Business, U.S. Route 29 Business, U.S. Route 522, Virginia State Route 3 and Virginia State Route 229. U.S. Route 15 and U.S. Route 29 pass just southeast of the town limits. US 15 Bus, US 29 Bus and US 522 share the same alignment through downtown, following Main Street. US 29 extends southwest towards Charlottesville and Interstate 64 westbound, while US 15 provides connections southward towards Orange and Gordonsville. US 15 and US 29 are concurrent to the north, providing connections to Warrenton and Washington, D.C. US 522 connects southward to I-64 eastbound, and northward towards Front Royal, Winchester and Interstate 81. SR 3 extends eastward, connecting to Fredericksburg and Interstate 95. SR 229 provides a connection northward towards Rixeyville and U.S. Route 211.

Amtrak Station in Culpeper VA
Culpeper Amtrak station, Visitor Center and Museum of Culpeper History

Amtrak operates a station in Culpeper, station code CLP. This station is served by the Cardinal, Northeast Regional and Crescent trains daily. Nearly 9,000 train passengers in 2010 used Culpeper station, which connects to New Orleans, Chicago, New York and Boston via the Crescent, Cardinal, and Northeast Regional lines.

The town of Culpeper is also serviced by Virginia Regional Transit. Virginia Regional Transit operates three buses in town—one on a northern loop, one on a southern loop, and one for disabled individuals.

Academy Bus offers a commuter bus from Culpeper to Washington, D.C.

Culpeper Regional Airport serves the area with a 5,000 foot runway.

Notable events

  • Culpeper was the location of the main encampment for the Army of the Potomac during the winter of 1863-64 during the Civil War. It was from Culpeper that General Ulysses S. Grant began the Overland Campaign against General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
  • During the presidential election campaign of 1960, vice presidential nominee Lyndon B. Johnson began his whistle-stop campaign of the South by giving a speech at Culpeper. As the train was pulling away from the station, Johnson yelled out a phrase that would become a battle cry of the campaign: "What did Dick Nixon ever do for Culpeper?!"
  • In 1967, it was the site of a one-day standoff between members of the American Nazi Party and police and military personnel over the group's attempt to bury their leader George Lincoln Rockwell in the local National Cemetery.
  • In 1995, former "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve lost his balance during a horse competition and became paralyzed.
  • Culpeper was featured in the nineteenth episode of the Small Town News Podcast, an improv comedy podcast that takes listeners on a fun and silly virtual trip to a small town in America each week, in which the hosts improvise scenes inspired by local newspaper stories.

In popular culture

  • In the 1992 movie Sneakers, starring Robert Redford, the character Carl (played by River Phoenix) asks the character Whistler (played by David Strathairn) to use a decryption device to hack into the Federal Reserve Transfer Node in Culpeper, stating that "900 billion [dollars] a day goes through there."
  • The 1998 movie Hush, starring Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hal Holbrook, was partially filmed in downtown Culpeper and showcased several local businesses. The producers of the movie did not mention Culpeper or its residents in the credits of the movie.
  • Throughout the presidential election year of 2008, BBC Newsnight correspondent Matt Frei produced a series of television segments in Culpeper, characterizing the city as an exemplar of small town America. Frei interviewed city and county residents about their political opinions and feelings through the primary election contests and reported live updates to the BBC on Election Night from the Raven's Nest Coffee House in Culpeper. Frei also returned to Culpeper in 2009 to take the pulse of the town one year after Barack Obama's election as president.
  • The 2011 movie 25 Hill, produced by and starring Corbin Bernsen, had its world premiere screening in Culpeper.
  • In the television series Homeland, Culpeper was a part of the fictional congressional district represented by the character Nicholas Brody. Brody mentions visiting with constituents in Culpeper in the 2012 episode "State of Independence."
  • In a 2013 television episode of Revolution, titled Ghosts, the characters Miles Matheson and Nora Clayton travel to Culpeper to recruit an old colleague named Jim Hudson and fight off a militia squad that invades the town.

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