Herndon (population 21,655) is located in Virginia’s “Northern Neck.” Development of the community began with construction of a mill in the early 19th century and was bolstered by the arrival of the railroad in 1859. The community is named for Captain William Lewis Herndon, whose actions during the sinking of the ship Central America in 1857 made him a national hero.
During the Civil War, Union forces seized the railroad through Herndon. While the town was not the site of any major battle, a raid by Confederate partisan John Singleton Mosby in 1863 led to the capture of Union soldiers and supplies. Because of the raid, Herndon is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails heritage tourism trail program.
After the war, Herndon prospered as a shipping point for surrounding dairy farmers in Fairfax County, the leading dairy-producing county in Virginia. In the 20th century, the character of the county began to shift from rural to urban with the introduction of the electric trolley, and Herndon increasingly became home to Washington, D.C. commuters.
Despite modern development pressure, Herndon has retained many of its historic properties and has four locally designated historic districts. One of the oldest buildings is the Old Train Station, built in 1857 in advance of completion of the rail line. Today, it houses the Herndon Historical Society museum as well as the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.
The Old Train Station is the focal point of a periodic City-sponsored reenactment of Mosby’s Raid. Held every five years, the reenactment draws Civil War enthusiasts from across the region.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2005.