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Rockbridge County, Virginia facts for kids

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Rockbridge County
Church Hill (Lexington, Virginia)
Official seal of Rockbridge County
Map of Virginia highlighting Rockbridge County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 610: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
Country  United States
State  Virginia
Founded October 1777 (established)
1778 (organized)
Named for Natural Bridge
Seat Lexington
Largest town Lexington
 • Total 601 sq mi (1,560 km2)
 • Land 598 sq mi (1,550 km2)
 • Water 3.4 sq mi (9 km2)  0.6%
 • Total 22,307
 • Estimate 
 • Density 38/sq mi (15/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 6th

Rockbridge County is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 22,307. Its county seat (and largest community) is the city of Lexington. The independent cities of Buena Vista (6,680) and Lexington (7,170) are both enclaved within the county's geographical borders, and are the county's only incorporated cities.


Maple Hall Rockbridge County Virginia
Maple Hall, antebellum home in Rockbridge County north of Lexington

Rockbridge County was established in October, 1777 from parts of now neighboring Augusta and Botetourt counties, and the first county elections were held in May 1778. Rockbridge County was named for Natural Bridge, a notable landmark in the southern portion of the county. Rockbridge County was formed during an act of assembly intended to reduce the amount of travel to the nearest courthouse, and to ensure trials were held fairly, and among friends rather than strangers. The first court session in Rockbridge County was held at the home of Samuel Wallace on April 7, 1778. Slaves were far fewer in Rockbridge County than in many parts of Virginia, and, thus, the anti-slavery movement was stronger in Rockbridge than in many other counties of Virginia. For instance, several faculty at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) vigorously opposed slavery. However, many of the wealthiest residents of Rockbridge County owned slaves and passed down those slaves to their widows and children.

Cyrus McCormick invented the reaper near Steele's Tavern at the northern end of the county.


Maury River Lexington Virginia
View of the Maury River, Lexington, Rockbridge County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 601 square miles (1,560 km2), of which 598 square miles (1,550 km2) is land and 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2) (0.6%) is water.

Adjacent counties


National protected areas

  • Blue Ridge Parkway (part)
  • George Washington National Forest (part)
  • Jefferson National Forest (part)
  • United States National Radio Quiet Zone (part)

Major highways

  • SR 39
  • SR 56
  • SR 130
  • SR 251
  • SR 252


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 6,548
1800 8,945 36.6%
1810 10,318 15.3%
1820 11,945 15.8%
1830 14,244 19.2%
1840 14,284 0.3%
1850 16,045 12.3%
1860 17,248 7.5%
1870 16,058 −6.9%
1880 20,003 24.6%
1890 23,062 15.3%
1900 21,799 −5.5%
1910 21,171 −2.9%
1920 20,626 −2.6%
1930 20,902 1.3%
1940 22,384 7.1%
1950 23,359 4.4%
1960 24,039 2.9%
1970 16,637 −30.8%
1980 17,911 7.7%
1990 18,350 2.5%
2000 20,808 13.4%
2010 22,307 7.2%
2018 (est.) 22,752 2.0%
US Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2013

Notable people

  • Robert H. Adams (1792–1832), born in Rockbridge County, United States Senator from Mississippi
  • Adam Rankin Alexander (1781–1848), born in Rockbridge County, United States Congressman from Tennessee
  • Archibald Alexander (1772–1851), born in Rockbridge County, noted Presbyterian clergyman, president of Hampden–Sydney College and one of the founders of and the first professor of Princeton Theological Seminary
  • Samuel Dale (1772–1841), born in Rockbridge County, American frontiersman, known as the ""Daniel Boone of Alabama" and a veteran of the Creek War of 1813–1814
  • Pierre Daura, Spanish/Catalan painter, naturalized American
  • Jessie Benton Frémont (1824-1902), American writer and political activist, born in Rockbridge County
  • William C. Friday (1920–2012), American educator, public servant and President of University of North Carolina (1956–1986), born in Raphine, Rockbridge County.
  • Sam Houston (1793–1863), born in Rockbridge County, the only man to be Governor of two U.S. states (Texas, Tennessee). Also, victor at the Battle of San Jacinto, President of the Republic of Texas, and U.S. Senator..
  • Stonewall Jackson, General in the C.S.A. Army, lived in Lexington, the county seat.
  • Robert E. Lee, former commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the U.S. Civil War, who, after the war, accepted the presidency of Washington and Lee University (then Washington College)
  • Sally Mann (born 1951), celebrated American photographer
  • Charlie Manuel, American and Japanese baseball player and World Series champion manager of the Philadelphia Phillies
  • Rick Mast, Fan favorite Winston Cup and Busch Series driver
  • Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the reaper
  • Miles Poindexter (1868-1946), Graduate of Fancy Hill Academy and Washington & Lee University, United States Senator from Washington, 1920 Republican Primary Presidential Candidate, United States Ambassador to Peru, Author, retired to and died in his home in Arnolds Valley
  • Samuel B. Pryor, (1816–1866), First mayor of Dallas, TX. He was in the first class of the Virginia Military Institute.
  • Archibald Roane, who later became governor of Tennessee, lived in Rockbridge County in the 1780s
  • Absalom Willis Robertson, U.S. Senator, father of Pat Robertson
  • Pat Robertson (b. 1930), American minister, university president and media figure
  • Archibald Stuart, Founder of Phi Beta Kappa
  • Cy Twombly, American ex-patriate painter, born in Lexington

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