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Front Royal, Virginia: A Favorite Among Favorites

From Iroquois hunting grounds to 21st century gem

Theresa and I have visited Front Royal, Virginia a few times. We'd already been there once or twice when we returned to record a video of their historic walking tour.

What's so special about Front Royal, Virginia?

First, how about that name? Don't you love it? I know I do.


How Front Royal Came To Be

Front Royal is located in Warren County, Virginia. It's the only incorporated town in that county. That puts Front Royal in a very rural area about an hour's drive from Washington D.C. How special is that?

Before the U.S. became what it is today, before it became a colony of a big empire, the Shenandoah Valley was home to several tribes of Indians. The Iroquois Confederation settled the area and used it for hunting. Today, it's still a great place to shoot some game. In 1744, the Treaty of Lancaster had the Iroquois selling the land east of the Allegheny Mountains to the Virginia Colony. Ten years later, colonial pioneers settled the area now known as Front Royal but then it was called LeHewtown.

European explorers were familiar with LeHewtown as early as the late 1600s. By 1790, the town had the nickname Helltown. In 1788, it was incorporated as Front Royal.

In 1854, the Alexandria, Orange and Manassas Gap Railroad came to Front Royal. It would prove to be significant during the Battle of Front Royal in 1862 and played a huge part in the Civil War. For much of the 20th century, the largest employer in the area was a rayon plant. The product was used for automobile tires and rocket nozzles.

Where Did Front Royal Get Its Name?

Short answer: No one knows. But there are several theories.

According to Wikipedia, one version of the story is that a local militia drill sergeant, during drills, would command his units to face a giant Royal Oak tree with the command "Front Royal!" While that sounds plausible, another theory involves the militia. Allegedly, the local militia was stationed around the town during the American Revolution. To enter the militia compound, the sentry would issue "Front" as the password while those wishing to enter would respond "Royal." They'd come to call the fort Camp Front Royal.

A third theory involved the French. King Charles II had issued a land grant allowing French settlers, trappers, and explorers access to the area. They called the area "le front royal," which translates as "Royal Frontier."

However the town got its name, Theresa and I fell in love with it because it truly is a beautiful town with a lot of history and culture.

Check out our video of Front Royal, Virginia and see for yourself how beautiful this small town is.

Watch more videos of small town historic districts on the Allen and Theresa YouTube channel.

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