HISTORY OF ROCKINGHAM COUNTY
Honeycombed with freshwater springs and caverns, the Valley’s lush meadows and forested mountainsides were prized by German and Scots-Irish settlers who established productive farms, mills, and thriving communities during America’s frontier days. They brought with them the strong values and a work ethic that continues to draw major employers to the area today.
Before the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County were founded, the Shenandoah Valley was home to Native Amercians including the Iroquois, Siouan, Shawnee, and Tuscarora. Over hundreds of years, they carved a footpath through the Valley's center that later became known as the Great Wagon Road (US Route 11). It was the main thoroughfare that enabled colonists to travel south from Pennsylvania.
Rockingham County was formed from Augusta County in 1778 and named for the Marquis of Rockingham, a British statesman sympathetic with the American Revolution.
Located in the heart of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Rockingham County is nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains on the east and the Allegheny Mountains on the west. Rockingham is the third largest county in Virginia and encompasses 853 square miles of diverse terrain.
Harrisonburg is the only independent city, and is named in honor of Thoams Harrison, who deeded two and one-half acres of his plantation to the County for a courthouse in 1779. Harrisonburg was founded in 1780, and recognized by the Virginia General Assembly as a town in 1849 and incorporated as a city in 1916.
As colonial settlers moved west, farming became the primary industry, and by the Civil War, the County and the Valley were known as "The Breadbasket of the Confederacy." It was the site of many battles, and Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson's successful Civil War Valley Campaign ended in Port Republic in 1862.
Seven years later, the railroad was completed between Washington, D.C., and Harrisonburg, which became the focal point for the poultry industry, and saw the development of one of the nation's first incubators in Rockingham County in 1884.
Today, Harrisonburg and Rockingham County form the Harrisonburg Metropolitan Statistical Area, which was named one of the best performing small metropolitan areas in the United States, according to the Milken Institute. The Metro has followed a plan of revitalization as historic homes are being converted to museums and professional buildings, local shops have been renovated to create new retail and dining experiences, and former factories and mills have been refurbished as modern living and working spaces.
The Harrisonburg Metro is an affordable destination with an ACCRA cost of living index of 82-98%. Standard & Poor’s recently upgraded the Rockingham County’s general obligation bond rating from AA+ to AAA, the highest grade the rating agency issues.
Rockingham County is proud of its agricultural heritage and is the number one producer of poultry, eggs, dairy, beef and grain in Virginia. While traditional agriculture is strong, the County is experiencing agricultural diversity with the startup of vineyards, hard cider production and a local food system that is easily accessed through farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants. Our people are not only engaged in agriculture, but education, advanced manufacturing, high technology, and biotechnology. They are reaping the benefits of a diversified economy that has provided respite from the ups and downs that have buffeted new business and industry that are compatible with the way of life in the Shenandoah Valley and assisting in the retention and expansion of exisitng companies.
Our way of life will provide your company with everything it needs for success – including a skilled, dedicated workforce, ease of access to major markets, and a truly enjoyable quality of life for all employees.