The Town of Irvington is situated in Lancaster County, on Virginia’s Northern Neck. The Northern Neck lies in the Atlantic Coastal Plain known as Virginia Tidewater. The Northern Neck is a peninsula that is bounded by the Potomac River to the north, the Chesapeake Bay to the east, and the Rappahannock River to the south. The Town of Irvington is located in the southeastern part of the Northern Neck along the shores of Carter’s Creek. Carter’s Creek is the first major tidal tributary of the Rappahannock River going upstream on the River’s north side.
The Town of Irvington’s roots are intertwined with the creek and coves that act to shape the Town’s 8.78 miles of shoreline. Original residents of the Town largely emigrated here from the Eastern Shore of Maryland during the nineteenth century. These founding residents came to the area by means of the waterways and earned their livelihood from the water. Irvington’soriginal development patterns evolved as this founding generation settled and set up home and occupation.
All of Irvington’s first commercial/industrial areas and neighborhoods were established within short walking distance of the water. These waterfront areas were chosen for both convenience and necessity. First, during this time water-based transportation was the primary mode of travel through means such as the steamboat. Secondly, as much as the creek and coves aided water borne transportation, they served to discourage land-based means of travel. As such, early development in Irvington occurred at the end of present day Steamboat Road in east Irvington and towards the end of King Carter Drive in west Irvington. Lastly, at the central place where west and east Irvington were linked by roads, many of the Town’s quasi-public uses developed such as churches and schools.
Irvington expanded and became linked to the nearby Towns of White Stone and Kilmarnock as well as the Village of Weems as land-based transportation developed. As these inland ties developed, traffic increased through Irvington on what is the present day Irvington Road. These changes in transportation shifted growth in the Town up along Steamboat Road and King Carter Drive towards the Town’s present commercial center. Irvington’s strong ties to the water have helped in defining the Town’s current status as a historic village.
This historic growth pattern left a rich legacy which gives present day Irvington testimony to its roots along the water, particularly the Rappahannock River and Carters Creek. Many historic commercial structures and homes are found along the lower reaches of Steamboat Road and King Carter Drive. Also, many industrial sites and water-related businesses still exist and provide livelihoods for present day Irvingtonians just as these sites served the Town’s people over 100 years ago. This mixture of historic commercial structures, noteworthyhomes, and unique families has acted to preserve a part of “old” Irvington for the present day citizens of the Town. Furthermore, these assets have acted to create a unique character for which the Town of Irvington is known today.