Rockbridge County was formed in 1777 thanks to Benjamin Borden’s 92,100 acre land grant. Lexington, the county seat, was established in 1778 by mostly Scots-Irish families self-sufficient in farming, milling and blacksmithing. The town grew to include the Lexington Arsenal (1739), which became Virginia Military Institute in 1839, and Liberty Hall Academy (1782), which became Washington and Lee University in 1870.



Natural Bridge and Monacan Village

15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge, Virginia

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The dramatic 200-foot tall and 90-foot wide limestone arch over Cedar Creek was acquired by Thomas Jefferson in 1774 as a public trust to ensure protection and access. Together with Niagara Falls, Natural Bridge was ranked as the continent’s most impressive natural landmark in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Today the site is served by a complex of Colonial Revival buildings, including a large hotel. The Monacan Indian Nation of Virginia has joined with Natural Bridge to present a Native American Village complex at the site, staffed by living history guides in reproduction work shelters and houses.

Liberty Hall Academy Ruins

Liberty Hall Road, Lexington, Virginia

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These picturesque stone ruins are the remains of one the region’s first educational institutions, founded by Scots-Irish Presbyterians. Augusta Academy opened in 1773 and received its charter as a college in 1782. Frame buildings housing the academy were replaced in 1793 by a three-story stone building to house the school’s students as well as the library, classrooms, and scientific equipment. The newly named Washington Academy moved into Lexington in 1803 after the stone academy building burned. It eventually grew into Washington and Lee University.

Rockbridge Historical Society/Campbell House

101 East Washington Street, Lexington, Virginia

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The Rockbridge Historical Society maintains three historic buildings in downtown Lexington. The most significant is the Campbell House, which houses the society’s collections. The museum is open for regular hours and admission is free. The Campbell House includes significant local furniture and artifacts of interest to family researchers.

Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church/Sam Houston Birthplace

73 Sam Houston Way, Lexington, Virginia

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This site is a key part of the story of the migration the Scots-Irish. Families like the Houstons of Church Hill began their American adventure in Pennsylvania and several generations later contributed to the growth and success of the American West. Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church was founded in 1746 by Scots-Irish settlers and the present stone building is thought to date from 1755–56. The area was the birthplace in 1793 of Sam Houston, one of the great figures in the settlement of the west and of relations between settlers and Indians.

Cyrus McCormick Farm and Workshop

128 McCormick’s Farm Circle, Raphine, Virginia

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The museum at the Cyrus McCormick Farm and Workshop provides an opportunity for visitors to understand how traditional farming around the world was revolutionized by the inventions of a Scots-Irish family of farmers and innovators. Walnut Grove, the McCormick family farm near Steele’s Tavern, is the birthplace of the mechanical reaper, the ancestor of the modern combine harvester.