The rails have been removed and the railcars are gone but it is immediately evident that Cape Charles was founded as a railroad town. In 1884 the rail line connected the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Norfolk, VA, with ferries for passengers and railcars. In 1885 construction began on a planned community on a gridwork of streets laid out on a parcel of 136 acres. Most of the original structures still stand.
Attracted by the restored homes, small-town ambiance and largely unspoiled landscape of bay and beach, retirees are happily settling here in the immaculately restored houses of the Historic District, all within easy walking distance to the beach and the amenities of Mason Ave. An excellent medical facility and staff, chiropractor, optometrist and (part time) dentist add to the attraction to retirees.
The 1-mile-long town beach at the end of Mason St. boasts a white, sandy beach (that is very wide when the tide is out), a fishing pier (no license necessary), two view platforms and a covered pavilion. A walk of about one-half mile will take you to the Cape Charles Museum & Welcome Center; just head for the water tower painted to look like a lighthouse. The museum is in a generating station built in 1947, and its centerpiece is the Busch-Sulzer engine and Westinghouse generator that, until the 1980s, provided peak-hour power to the town. They also have an assortment of railroad cars. The museum is open seasonally and is free (757-331-1008).
The Waterway Guide Team has gained extensive boating knowledge over the years, and now we are sharing all of the tips, skills and tools we’ve picked up along the way!