Luray is the county seat and the county’s largest town. It’s also nationally known as the home of Luray Caverns, a breathtaking underground cavern now on the National Register of Historic Places. Luray is also known as the gateway to Shenandoah National Park and home to the park’s management offices. Stanley and Shenandoah are the other two incorporated towns within Page County, Virginia. Both have authentic small-town charm and quaint downtown districts with shops and restaurants.
Page County was formed from parts of Shenandoah and Rockingham counties by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1831. Luray, the county seat, was founded in 1812. Shenandoah, the southernmost town, was established in 1884 and Stanley, near the center of the county, was established in 1900. Page County, Virginia, located in the Shenandoah Valley, was formed in 1831 and named for Governor John Page.
The beauty and serenity of Page County that residents and visitors cherish will endure forever. The county’s western edge is protected by the George Washington National Forest. To its east is Shenandoah National Park, Virginia’s only National Park. There are no interstate highways anywhere within the county’s borders. Page County’s rivers, farmlands and mountain views are as unspoiled now as they were when the county was founded in 1831.
- Luray Caverns is located in the western part of Luray.
- Luray is the nearest town to the Thornton Gap entrance to Skyline Drive (to the east), as well as serving as the headquarters for Shenandoah National Park.
- Murder Mountain, located off Old Wagon Road in Luray, has become a destination for ghost hunters.
- The Luray Downtown Historic District is a Virginia Main Street Community and a registered National Historic District.
- One of the dominant hills in the Town of Luray is the location of the Grand Old Mimslyn Inn, a 1931 classic Southern mansion style hotel. The hotel is a popular site for wedding receptions. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Mimslyn during a short visit in the late 1930s and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner visited in January 2008. The site of the Mimslyn is on the former location of “Aventine Hall,” the home of Peter Bouck Borst, a mid-19th century lawyer. Aventine was carefully removed to make way for the construction of the Mimslyn in the 1930s. “Aventine Hall” is now located on South Court Street (this is a private residence) in the Town of Luray, Virginia.
- The only high school in Luray is Luray High School, home of the Bulldogs.
- The town is also home to The Page News and Courier, the major newspaper for the county.
- In 1893 was founded the Blue Ridge Bank, one of the oldest still functioning banks in Virginia.
- The community’s proximity to the South Fork of the Shenandoah River provides recreational opportunities connected with boating, white water rafting, and fishing as well as hunting in the fall.
- The Luray Singing Tower, officially known as the Belle Brown Northcott Memorial, was erected in 1937 in memory of Colonel Theodore Clay Northcott‘s wife (Northcott was the owner of the Luray Caverns). At 117 feet (36 m) high the Luray Singing Tower contains a carillon of 47 bells from John Taylor & Co of Loughborough, Leicestershire, Great Britain. The largest bell weighs 7,640 pounds and is six feet in diameter. The smallest weighs a mere 12½ pounds. Recognized as one of the country’s major carillons, regularly scheduled recitals are held, free of charge, through the spring, summer and fall. The carillon is situated in a park opposite Luray Caverns.
- Archeological Site No. AU-154, Blackrock Springs Site, Jeremey’s Run Site, and Paine Run Rockshelter are archaeological sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- In addition to the Luray Downtown Historic District, Aventine Hall, and archaeological sites, the Heiston-Strickler House, Kanawha, Luray Norfolk and Western Passenger Station, Massanutton Heights, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Page County Courthouse, Abram and Sallie Printz Farm, Redwell-Isabella Furnace Historic District, Ruffner House, Skyline Drive Historic District, Isaac Spitler House, Stover House, and Wall Brook Farm are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Page County, Virginia, or known as the Luray Valley and later Page Valley during the Civil War, is located between the majestic Blue Ridge and Massanutten Mountains on the east and west and with the ever-flowing Shenandoah River running south to north.The significance of the Page Valley as an avenue of armies through the Shenandoah Valley, to and from Gettysburg and as a prominent thoroughfare for General “Stonewall” Jackson, with its stories, is a valuable resource that must be preserved and shared. Within the boundaries of this fertile valley Confederate and Union soldiers marched and died, commanders contemplated strategies that would affect the entire Shenandoah Valley, supporters and sympathizers went about daily life at home, slaves were bought and sold, barns, mills and bridges were burned and General “Stonewall” Jackson with 38,000 troops marched through his “beloved” valley.
Civil War Markers Established in Page County
- White House Bridge, located west of Luray on Route 211 – Stonewall Jackson’s cavalry chief, Turner Ashby, burned this bridge on June 2, 1862, to delay Federal pursuit. The battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic were fought a week later. Civil War Trails interpretation.
- New Market / Luray Gap, Civil War Trails sign located at the gap in the Forest Service parking lot – Near here on Nov. 23, 1862, Stonewall Jackson announced to his staff that his Army of the Valley had become the official Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia and soon would join Robert E. Lee’s troops on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Willow Grove Mill, Civil War Trails sign located two miles south of Luray on Business 340 and Route 642 – The mill here and several other buildings in the area were burned in early October 1864 by Union troopers under Col. William Powell. The action was part of “The Burning” of the Valley ordered by Union General Philip Sheridan.
- Graves’ Chapel, “Jackson’s Last Glimpse of the Valley,” Civil War Trails sign located six miles south of Luray, take Business 340 to Route 689, then east one mile on Route 689 – In late November 1862, Stonewall Jackson led 32,000 troops across the South Fork of the Shenandoah River en route to Fishers Gap. After crossing the mountains, Jackson rejoined the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia. It was the last time the famous general saw the Valley. He died following an accidental shooting at Chancellorsville in May the next year.
- Burning of Red Bridge, Civil War Trails sign located one mile east of US 340, at Route 650 — To avoid Federal annoyance while making plans at Conrad’s Store (modern Elkton) in late April 1862, Stonewall Jackson ordered bridges over the South Fork of the Shenandoah River burned. In a semi-botched operation, Red Bridge was the only one burned. The events led to a rift between Jackson and his popular cavalryman Turner Ashby.
- Shield’s Advance and Retreat, Civil War Trails sign located south of Luray on US 340 — Union Gen. James Shields crossed Naked Creek here June 7, 1862, in pursuit of Stonewall Jackson’s army, then camped at Port Republic. After losing to Jackson two days later, Shield’s troops halted here during their retreat.