Bride & Groom MOM Subscribe

Find Local

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

We draw the borders of the 51st state.

The 15 jurisdictions of Virginia that are part of the federally designated Washington metropolitan area are generally thought of as Northern Virginia. But those include Warren, Clarke, and Spotsylvania counties as well as the city of Fredericksburg—places that culturally and politically belong more with the Old Dominion.

A more natural southern border would be the Rappahannock River, which forms the western border of Fauquier County and flows southeast to Fredericksburg. The river has long been the de facto dividing line between Northern Virginia and the rest of the state. Historian and author Tony Horwitz tells of driving south from Washington and reaching the first state visitors center—not at the Virginia border but at the Rappahannock.

“It’s a small but telling bit of symbolism: an internal border post, guarding the state’s heartland from the breakaway region of Northern Virginia… .” he wrote in State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America. Most of Virginia above the Rappahannock River was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War, he noted, “and in the view of many state residents, it remains so today.”

This article first appeared in the November 2008 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles like it, click here.  

All Northern Virginia Articles

Should the New State Include DC?

Will Northern Virginia Become the 51st State?

We Draw the Borders of the 51st State

New Dominion of the Imagination

Us Against Them

blog comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular on Washingtonian

The Town Without Wi-Fi

This Guy Won the Lottery and Put His Money Into Building a Smart House

Here's Why Dating Sucks in DC, Ladies: You're Just Too Educated

Great Small Towns Near Washington, DC

Photos: From Live Fish Centerpieces to Handmade Headpieces, These are Diner en Blanc DC’s Most Dedicated Attendees

Area Man Gets Terrible Job

Crime Museum to Close on September 30

22 Things to Do in DC This September

6 New Restaurants and Bars to Try in DC This Weekend