Warren County Courthouse in Front Royal, Virginia
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Joseph Warren|
|Largest town||Front Royal|
|o Total||217 sq mi (560 km2)|
|o Land||213 sq mi (550 km2)|
|o Water||3.3 sq mi (9 km2) 1.5%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||170/sq mi (67/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
Warren County is a U.S. county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The 2010 census places Warren County within the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area with a population of 37,575. The county seat is Front Royal.
By 1672 the entire Shenandoah Valley was claimed for hunting by the Iroquois Confederation following the Beaver Wars. Some bands of the Shawnee settled in the area as client groups to the Iroquois and alternately to the Cherokee after 1721. The Iroquois formally sold their entire claim east of the Alleghenies to the Virginia Colony at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744. Warren County was established in 1836 from Frederick and Shenandoah counties.:33 At that time the county had a population of 7,000 people, a quarter of which were enslaved.:289 Wedding records show marriages of people born in the 1770s marrying in the 1800s who head households of four to eight "free colored" so the early demographics of the population are unclear.:823-824 Joist Hite lead the Sixteen Families into the Lower Shenandoah Valley. Some consider that group the first European settlers of the area, others believe different claims.:ix Either way, Presbyterians of Scotch-Irish lineage and Quakers followed.
Rail service was established in 1854 with the construction of the Alexandria, Orange and Manassas Gap Railroad between Manassas and Riverton. This line was soon extended to Strasburg in time to become a factor in the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, 1862 and throughout the Civil War. Lumber, agriculture, manufacturing and grain mills provided employment in the region for decades after the Civil War. The county is named for Joseph Warren. During the Civil War the Battle of Front Royal took place in the county on May 23, 1862.:368 On September 23, 1864 William Thomas Overby and five others of then Lt. Col. John S. Mosby's 43rd Virginia Battalion of Partisan Rangers were captured by cavalry troops under the command of then Brig. Gen. George A. Custer in Front Royal out of uniform and were executed as spies.
In 2019, the Warren County Economic Development Authority was embroiled in a massive financial scandal that some observers have characterized as the largest embezzlement scheme in the history of the state of Virginia. The fraud scheme, which involved the alleged embezzlement of $21 million in county funds through fictitious development schemes and insider deals, was uncovered by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Culpeper Field Office, which launched a probe in 2018 into the business practices of the EDA in conjunction with the Front Royal Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 14 current and former municipal officials were indicted and are facing criminal charges, including the entire Warren County board of supervisors as well as the former Warren County Attorney and the head of the Warren County schools division.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 217 square miles (560 km2), of which 213 square miles (550 km2) is land and 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2) (1.5%) is water. The highest point is Hogback Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, along the border with Rappahannock County.
As of the census of 2000, there were 31,584 people, 12,087 households, and 8,521 families residing in the county. The population density was 148 people per square mile (57/km²). There were 13,299 housing units at an average density of 62 per square mile (24/km²). The demographics of the county is (2000) 92.71% White, 4.83% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 1.29% from two or more races. 1.56% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 12,087 households out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.60% were married couples living together, 10.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.50% were non-families. 24.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the county, the population was spread out with 25.60% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 30.60% from 25 to 44, 23.90% from 45 to 64, and 12.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $42,422, and the median income for a family was $50,487. Males had a median income of $37,182 versus $25,506 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,841. About 6.00% of families and 8.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.70% of those under age 18 and 10.40% of those age 65 or over.
For many years, Avtex Fibers (formerly known as the American Viscose Corporation from 1910 to 1976), was the county's largest employer and taxpayer. At its height, it employed over 800 residents throughout Front Royal and Warren County.
Towards the late 1980s, however, the company's main plant in Front Royal was forced to close as a result of numerous environmental violations, which eventually resulted in the site being declared a Superfund site.. The county, reeling from the sudden loss of jobs and tax revenue, established the Warren County Economic Development Authority (WCEDA) to stimulate and diversify its economy as well as the economy of Town of Front Royal, its county seat. The purpose of the WCEDA is to foster and stimulate industry and economic development within Warren County and the town of Front Royal.