The quaint village of Port Republic sits 12 miles east of Harrisonburg at the confluence of two rivers that form the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, near the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Today, the former mill town is a 2-street village with a mix of architecture styles that reflect the town’s storied history: a bustling commercial center in the early 19th century, to a post-Civil War commerce crash and flood, to early 20th Century homes of librarians and laborers.
This quiet little village was once not so quiet! The first mill was constructed in the mid-1700s before the town was chartered and, at various points in town, the old mill races that once sent goods to “The Point” remain. In 1803, the town was platted to include streets and building lots and, thanks to the navigable river, the town quickly became a commercial center with mills, a tannery, blacksmiths and leather shops plus other trades. Products from the town’s industrious inhabitants were loaded at The Point at the northern end of town and transported downstream via flat boats, called “gundalows,” as far away as Harpers Ferry and beyond. There are presidential connections to early Port Republic, too, for in 1794 George Washington stayed at nearby Bogota and James Madison’s cousin, John, resided in Port Republic and was the first King’s Clerk of Court for Augusta County (which included present-day Rockingham County). Notice he was the King’s clerk!
This Civil War came to town in 1862 when the revered General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson led troops through the area during hisValley Campaign. Civil War buffs frequently tour the village and war re-enactors set up encampments in the Village occasionally, bringing their interpretation of a soldier’s life as he participated in the Battle of Port Republic. The village museum, run by the Society of Port Republic Preservationists, offers a glimpse into this time and place and is also a treasure trove of exhibits on the town’s colonial beginnings as well as Port Republic life through the centuries.
For nature lovers, a boat ramp near The Point offers easy access to the Shenandoah River for a scenic paddle downstream to follow the paths of 18th Century gundalows. Follow Port Republic Rd eastward from town to its end, take a left, and you accessShenandoah National Park for horseriding on a fire road or hiking various trails. And the country roads surrounding the village offer gorgeous scenery for biking tours especially during late April and mid-October.
Today, you’ll find Port Republic offers a self-guided walking tour with historical plaques at various points throughout town. In 1980, the town was recognized as a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places and presently offers an eclectic mix of architectural styles. A stroll through town offers glimpses of private residences that were once home to an early Port Republic merchant (Circa 1770) as well as a freed slave in the late 1800s (Circa 1810). Plus, you’ll see an American Foursquare, remodeled farmhouse and a Craftsman bungalow all from the 20th Century…and in one charming place!
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© 2019 Harrisonburg-Rockingham Association of Realtors All rights reserved. Information deemed to be reliable but not guaranteed. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Broker Reciprocity Program. Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Kline May Realty- Valley Roots Team are marked with the BR logo and detailed information about them includes the name of the listing brokers. Listing broker has attempted to offer accurate data, but buyers are advised to confirm all items. Information last updated on 2019-02-16.