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Culpeper, Virginia

Coordinates: 38°28′19″N 77°59′57″W / 38.47194°N 77.99917°W / 38.47194; -77.99917
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Culpeper, Virginia
Culpeper, Virginia Train Depot and Visitor Center
From top to bottom: Downtown from Davis Street, Culpeper Train Depot and Visitor Center, Main Street in Culpeper
Official seal of Culpeper, Virginia
"Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future"
Location of Culpeper within the Culpeper County
Location of Culpeper within the Culpeper County
Culpeper, Virginia is located in Virginia
Culpeper, Virginia
Culpeper, Virginia
Location in Virginia
Culpeper, Virginia is located in the United States
Culpeper, Virginia
Culpeper, Virginia
Culpeper, Virginia (the United States)
Coordinates: 38°28′19″N 77°59′57″W / 38.47194°N 77.99917°W / 38.47194; -77.99917
CountryUnited States
 • MayorFrank Reaves Jr.
 • Total7.31 sq mi (18.94 km2)
 • Land7.27 sq mi (18.83 km2)
 • Water0.04 sq mi (0.11 km2)
413 ft (126 m)
 • Total20,062
 • Density2,759.56/sq mi (1,065.43/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
22701, 22735
Area code540
FIPS code51-20752[3]
GNIS feature ID1498471[4]

Culpeper (formerly Culpeper Courthouse, earlier Fairfax) is an incorporated town in Culpeper County, Virginia, United States. The population was 20,062 at the 2020 census,[5] up from 16,379 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Culpeper County.[6]


Culpeper is located at 38°28′19″N 77°59′57″W / 38.47194°N 77.99917°W / 38.47194; -77.99917.[7] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 7.31 square miles (18.9 km2), of which 7.27 square miles (18.8 km2) is land and 0.04 square mile (0.1 km2) is water.[8]


After establishing 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 (1693–1781)[9] who was proprietor of the Northern Neck peninsula, 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.

Culpeper Courthouse during the Confederacy, August 1862

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, who at age 17 was a protege of the 6th Lord Fairfax. In 1795, the town received a U.S. 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 to the northeast of Fairfax Court House and Fairfax Station post offices in Fairfax County, was finally resolved when the Virginia General Assembly formally renamed the town as simply Culpeper in 1869 (Acts, 1869–1870, chapter 118, page 154).

During the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the Culpeper Minutemen, a pro-Independence militia, formed in the town of Culpeper Courthouse. They organized in what was then known as "Clayton's Old Field," near today's Yowell Meadow Park.

During the Civil War (1861-1865), 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 Street (present location of Piedmont Realty) was the frame house where "The Gallant Major" John Pelham died after sustaining a wound at the Battle of Kelly's Ford.

In 1974, the town had a Choral Society, an Odd Fellows Hall, and an American Legion Hall.[10]

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.[11]

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 were later condemned.[12] 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.[13]

In 2014, the Museum of Culpeper History moved into the town's historic train depot.[14]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[15]

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.[citation needed]


Culpeper has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with very warm, humid summers and cool winters. Precipitation is abundant and well spread (although the summer months are usually wetter), with an annual average of 45.19 in (1,148 mm).

Climate data for Culpeper, Virginia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 80
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 45
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 25
Record low °F (°C) −14
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.26
Source: [16]
View north along US 15 Bus, US 29 Bus and US 522 in Culpeper


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.

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, Cincinnati, 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.


Culpeper houses many local restaurants, shops and stores in its historic downtown. There are many food options ranging from bakeries, authentic cuisines, delis, and breweries. Mainstreet also houses many locally owned boutiques.[17]  In recent years many improvements have been added to provide new activities and opportunities to the community such as the reopening of The Dominion Skate Park and State Climb.[18]

The historic George Washington Carver High School has since been renovated to better serve the community. In recent years it has been changed to become a community kitchen and provide the resources for locals to grow and produce to better serve the community.[19]

Public schools[edit]

  • A.G. Richardson Elementary (18370 Simms Dr., Culpeper Va. 22701)
  • Emerald Hill Elementary (11245 Rixeyville Road, Culpeper VA 22701)
  • Farmington Elementary (500 Sunset Lane, Culpeper VA 22701)
  • Pearl Sample Elementary (18480 Simms Drive, Culpeper VA 22701)
  • Sycamore Park Elementary (451 Radio Lane, Culpeper, Virginia 22701)
  • Yowell Elementary (701 Yowell Drive, Culpeper, VA 22701)
  • Culpeper Middle School (14300 Achievement Drive, Culpeper VA 22701)
  • Floyd T. Binns Middle School (205 E. Grandview Ave. Culpeper, VA 22701)
  • Culpeper County High School (14240 Achievement Drive, Culpeper Va. 22701)
  • Eastern View High School (16332 Cyclone Way, Culpeper, VA 22701)
  • Culpeper Technical Education Center (17441 Frank Turnage Drive Culpeper, VA 22701)

Notable people[edit]

Notable events[edit]

  • 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?!"[21][22]
  • 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 fell, resulting in severe spinal injury and paralysis.
  • 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. The hosts improvise scenes inspired by local newspaper stories.[23]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Culpeper town, Virginia; United States". Census.gov. Retrieved July 19, 2022.
  3. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "2020 Census: QuickFacts". U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts. U.S. Census Bureau. April 1, 2020. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  8. ^ "Census.gov". US Census. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  9. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 97.
  10. ^ Wallace, Hester W (December 5, 1974). "Culpeper News". Charlottesville-Albemarle Tribune.
  11. ^ "Davis Street Culpeper, Virginia". Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  12. ^ "EARTHQUAKE IN CULPEPER: The damage done". Star-Exponent; Culpeper, Virginia. August 24, 2011. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  13. ^ Johnston, Donnie (August 24, 2011). "Earthquake forces Warner outside for public forum". The Free Lance-Star; Fredericksburg, Virginia. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  14. ^ Museum of Culpeper History web site
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  16. ^ "Average Weather for Culpeper, VA - Temperature and Precipitation". Weather.com. August 2011. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  17. ^ "Homepage". Visit Culpeper. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  18. ^ Star-Exponent, ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION Culpeper (September 30, 2023). "'Too good an opportunity'—Culpeper man returns home, reopening skating rink". Culpeper Star-Exponent. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  19. ^ Star-Exponent, Culpeper (September 4, 2023). "Carver Food Enterprise Center opens in Culpeper". Culpeper Star-Exponent. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  20. ^ "Obituary, Andrew J. Boyle". The Free Lance–Star. Fredericksburg, VA. March 20, 2001. Retrieved May 7, 2024 – via Legacy.com.
  21. ^ Hoppe, Arthur. Having a Wonderful Time: My First Half Century As a Newspaperman. Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1995, p. 19. ISBN 081181145X
  22. ^ Nelson, Zann (October 7, 2010). "Celebrating Johnson's visit to Culpeper". Star-Exponent; Culpeper, Virginia. Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  23. ^ "Small Town News".

External links[edit]