About the Lower Northern Neck

About the Lower Northern Neck


In Tidewater, Virginia – Approximately 2 1/2 hours southeast of Washington, D. C. and within 90 minutes of Richmond and Colonial Williamsburg. Lancaster and Northumberland Counties make up the lower Northern Neck.


The first land grant of record in the Northern Neck was made to John Carter, who took up 1300 acres defined, today, as Carter Creek. Circumstantial evidence shows that some individuals purchased land in the region directly from Native American Indians. Northumberland County was officially established in 1648.  In 1652, Lancaster County was formed out of the southern part of Northumberland County.


The lower Northern Neck covers 325 square miles, and it lies between the Middle Peninsula and Maryland’s western shore. Elevations in the region range from sea level at the shoreline to 200 feet above sea level at the upper reach of the lower Northern Neck. The region is defined by water, most notably, the Rappahannock River, the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. Smith Point, near Reedville, is where the Potomac and the Little Wicomico Rivers meet, and it is halfway between Annapolis and Norfolk. Reedville, a Victorian village founded in 1867, by Elijah Reed, a New England sea captain, is located on Cockrell Creek. This part of the lower Northern Neck includes the Wicomico area, Dividing Creek, and the Fleets Bay Tributaries.


Out of a total 208,295 acres, 55,350 acres are in farms with an average of 280 acres. Over 120,387 acres are forestland. Grains, poultry, dairy products, meat animals, and timber are the primary commodities.


Farming and fishing, which includes shell fishing, have been the industrial base of the region. The seafood industry also includes aquaculture. Recreation on the region’s rivers, creeks and Chesapeake Bay continues to stimulate growth in the marina industry. The region’s unparalleled boating and sailing opportunities support marinas, boatels, boat yards, hotels, bed and breakfast inns, restaurants, golf courses and local shops. Kilmarnock, White Stone, and Irvington, all located in Lancaster County, are well known as retirement communities. Kilmarnock is the retail and commercial center of the lower Northern Neck.


The lower Northern Neck has a modified continental climate with mild winters and humid summers.  The average temperature from June to August is 77 degrees and the average temperature for December through February is 44 degrees.  The average rainfall is 46 inches.


The lower Northern Neck has more than 70 churches representing over 15 denominations including Protestant and Catholic.

Clubs & Organizations

The Tides Inn and Conference Center, located in Irvington, offers the Golden Eagle, an 18-hole golf course with dining facilities and pro shop, and the Par Three, a nine-hole golf course. Hills Quarter, located between Kilmarnock and Irvington, has an 18-hole course called the King Carter Golf Course. Quinton Oaks, located in Callao, offers an 18-hole golf course and dining facilities. The Northern Neck Family YMCA, in Kilmarnock, is a full service fitness center with pool. The lower Northern Neck has several sports and swim clubs, and sailing and yacht clubs, as well.

Historic Sites & Attractions

  • Historic Lancaster Courthouse – Lancaster
  • Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library – Lancaster
  • Historic Christ Church – Irvington
  • Steamboat Era Museum – Irvington
  • Belle Isle State Park – Lancaster
  • Sunnybrook Ferry at Rt. 644/Little Wicomico River – Lancaster
  • Merry Point Ferry at Rt. 604/Corrotaman River – Lancaster
  • St. Mary’s Whitechapel – Lancaster
  • Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern – Heathsville
  • Old Northumberland County Jail – Heathsville
  • Northumberland County Courthouse – Heathsville
  • Smith Island and Tangier Island Cruises – Reedville
  • Reedville National Register Historic District – Reedville
  • Fishermen’s Museum – Reedville


Each county has its own public library. Services include summer reading programs for children, guest speakers for adults, and internet access for adults and for children with parental permission.


Rappahannock General Hospital, in Kilmarnock, and Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, in Gloucester, offer medical and emergency care for the region. Volunteer rescue squads and fire departments serve the region.


The lower Northern Neck has a population of over 24,000.


The Mayfair House and Rappahannock Westminster Canterbury, full service assisted living facilities, are in Kilmarnock.


Real estate tax per $100 of assessed value is the following:

  • Lancaster – $0.54
  • Northumberland – $0.49

Personal property tax per $100 assessed value for vehicles, boats, planes and other personal property varies and each locality uses different valuations.

For details, contact the county Commissioner of Revenue.


The lower Northern Neck is within 90 minutes of the Richmond International Airport and two hours of the Norfolk International Airport, with daily flights to New York, Atlanta and other major points.  Hummel Field in Middlesex County, the Middle Peninsula Regional Airport in West Point, and the Tappahannock Airport in Essex County are airfields for small, general aviation. Nearly 20 marinas, with full and/or short term dockage, services, supplies and amenities serve the lower Northern Neck, and destinations by power boat, such as Virginia’s Eastern Shore and the beginning of the Intracoastal Waterway at Portsmouth and Norfolk, are within one half day.

Annual Events

  • Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show / White Stone – March
  • Fridays by the River / White Stone – Fridays all summer long
  • Belle Isle State Park Guided Canoe Trips – April through October
  • Rivahfest / Kilmarnock – May
  • Blessing of the Fleet & Parade of Boats / Reedville – June
  • Reedville Bluefish Derby / Buzzard’s Point / Reedville – May
  • Fourth of July Celebration at Windmill Point – July
  • Fourth of July Hometown Parade / Irvington – July
  • BBQ and Beach Blast at Windmill Point – August
  • Labor Day Art Show / Kilmarnock – August
  • Lively Fireman’s Festival / Lively – August
  • Bay Seafood Festival / Whitestone – September
  • Scottish Days / Kilmarnock – October
  • Reedville Oyster Roast – November
  • Christmas on Cockrell Creek / Reedville – December
  • Festival of Trees / Kilmarnock – December
  • Carter Creek Boat Illumination / Irvington – December