False Cape

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For the community in California formerly with this name, see Capetown, California.

False Cape is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the extreme southeastern portion of Virginia. False Cape is located along the section of ocean adjacent to North Carolina and a small portion of Virginia known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic due to the many shipwrecks. It got its name because its land mass resembled Cape Henry from the ocean. This false impression of Cape Henry, which is situated at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay about 20 miles to the north, lured navigators of ships and boats into the treacherous shallow waters, where they often ran aground.[1]

Irish immigrants searching for Cape Henry ran aground in the 18th century and built a small unincorporated town using cypress wood that washed ashore from shipwrecks, and named it Wash Woods. These immigrants lived amongst local Native American tribes and some immigrants married local Native Americans. However, the severe weather conditions took a toll on the tiny town. By the 1920s the sea had inundated the narrow sliver of sand so often that townspeople were eventually forced to abandon the place and relocate to Knotts Island a few miles inland. Wash Woods is now considered one of the many lost towns of Virginia.

In modern times, the False Cape is located in False Cape State Park, adjacent to the federal Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in a remote portion of the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia.