Wachapreague, Virginia

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Wachapreague, Virginia
Sea marsh and fishing boats in Wachapreague
Sea marsh and fishing boats in Wachapreague
Location in Accomack County and the state of Virginia.
Location in Accomack County and the state of Virginia.
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Virginia
County Accomack
 • Total 0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)
 • Land 0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 10 ft (3 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 232
 • Density 770/sq mi (330/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 23480
Area code(s) 757
FIPS code 51-82320[1]
GNIS feature ID 1500265[2]

Wachapreague is a town in Accomack County, Virginia, United States. The population was 232 at the 2010 census.[3]


Restaurant in Wachapreague

Wachapreague, known as the "Little City by the Sea", has a long and fruitful history. The name of the town came from the Wachapreague, an Algonquian people who resided in the area centuries ago. This area was natural high ground that had easiest access to the ocean on the whole Eastern Shore. Emperor Wachiwampe left Wachapreague to his daughter in a will in 1656.

In 1744, the Teackles settled in the area and built a home at what is today 15 Brooklyn Avenue. In 1779, the British sloop Thistle came near the town but was forced away from Wachapreague Channel and sunk by fire from forts on Parramore and Cedar Islands. There was a tidal gristmill in the area located on Mill Creek to the south of town. It was not until 1874 that Wachapreague began as a small town. In that year, the Powell brothers sold the first lots to Isaac Phillips and Francis Smith. By 1883, 15 lots had been sold. The next year, the town applied for a post office and was denied the name Powellton since this name was already taken. The town chose the name Wachapreague in its place.

It was during the late 1800s that the town became a bustling port again. The Civil War had drastically reduced the commerce to the port, but now the port bustled with activity. By 1884, Wachapreague had twice weekly freight and passenger service with New York City. At this time numerous stores opened. The town also became a resort. One of the Powell brothers leased his house on Main Street to Alfred Kellam who turned it into a hotel that advertised itself for the excellence of fishing, hunting and sunbathing in the vicinity.

In 1902, the Hotel Wachapreague was built. It was a lavish, four-story building with 30 guest rooms. At the time it was built it did not seem a certain prospect. There was no regular ship service or even a paved road to the town, and the proprietor would not sell liquor. Still, the hotel's clientele grew and had several famous visitors, including President Herbert Hoover. The Hotel Wachapreague became a popular destination of visitors from the north.

During the early part of the 20th century, Wachapreague continued to grow as fields were subdivided and became town neighborhoods. Then in 1931, two years after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the town's bank closed. The next year the town was owed over $2,000 in unpaid taxes and did not have enough money to cover its debts. Things went from bad to worse when the Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane of 1933, known as the August storm, caused extensive damage in town where damages were estimated at $75,000. In 1935, the Methodist church burned.

In 1938, the town voted to cancel all back taxes and two weeks later received a check from the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) for $522 allowing the town to pay its debts. In the 1940s, the town was still growing but several landmarks were destroyed by fire. In the 1960s, the town started to decline in population. In 1978, the Hotel Wachapreague burned. Today, the residential areas resemble the quiet town of 1940, and the waterfront bustles with fishermen's activity.[4]

Bunting Place was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.[5]


Wachapreague is located at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (37.606514, −75.690510).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.3 square miles (0.7 km²), all of it land.

The Wachapreague Channel winds from the town, through the seaside marsh, out to the barrier islands. Between Cedar and Parramore Islands it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. Easy access to the marsh and ocean makes this a popular place for fishermen.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 485
1920 498 2.7%
1930 585 17.5%
1940 548 −6.3%
1950 551 0.5%
1960 507 −8.0%
1970 399 −21.3%
1980 404 1.3%
1990 291 −28.0%
2000 236 −18.9%
2010 232 −1.7%
Est. 2014 230 [7] −0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 236 people, 133 households, and 69 families residing in the town. The population density was 922.9 people per square mile (350.5/km²). There were 225 housing units at an average density of 879.9 per square mile (334.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.22% White, 2.54% African American, 0.42% Native American, 1.69% from other races, and 2.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.69% of the population.

There were 133 households out of which 9.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 3.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.1% were non-families. 42.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 25.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.77 and the average family size was 2.32.

In the town the population was spread out with 7.6% under the age of 18, 3.8% from 18 to 24, 20.3% from 25 to 44, 33.1% from 45 to 64, and 35.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 56 years. For every 100 females there were 87.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $36,625, and the median income for a family was $39,063. Males had a median income of $30,313 versus $21,563 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,680. About 2.9% of families and 7.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including none of those under the age of eighteen and 7.0% of those sixty five or over.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Wachapreague town, Virginia". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved April 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Adapted from Wachapreague, Virginia: Then and Now, by Kirk Mariner
  5. Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links