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Falmouth Historic District

Founded on the north bank of the winding Rappahannock River in 1728, Falmouth was a major colonial port with tobacco warehouses and many businesses. Several early buildings survive to form the historic district. Falmouth’s days as an important trading center ended in the mid-1800s. Railroads superseded riverboats then as the primary means of transporting goods, including cotton, iron, grain, and tobacco. Many buildings from Falmouth’s heyday still stand. They include the customhouse, commercial buildings, residences, workers’ dwellings, warehouses, and churches. Several elegant mansions are located on the heights overlooking the town. Founded in 1727 as a trading post for the Northern Neck and became a milling center to which ocean ships came to load foodstuffs for England. Here were flour mills, tobacco warehouses, and stores. In return for foodstuffs sent overseas came English goods to satisfy the needs and fancies of a prosperous community. For a brief period Falmouth was the rival of Fredericksburg across the Rappahannock River; a bridge subsequently built across the river gave Northern Neck territory the advantage of greater tonnage that docked a mile downstream, diverting commercial importance to Fredericksburg and the south bank and leading to the gradual decline of this early port. In Fal- mouth Basil Gordon became one of America's first millionaires. George Washington lived near the town as a boy.