It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch of logic to assume abandoned towns are abandoned for a reason. If a whole town decided to leave, then why would anyone ever want to come back? This isn’t always the case, as economic turmoil or other hardships can drive people to new locations. But there’s one ghost town in Virginia that most people haven’t inhabited for years. And that’s mostly because of its tragic history and harsh conditions. The former town of Wash Woods is currently part of False Cape State Park, and yet the plot of land where the buildings are deteriorating is also undeniably haunting.
The story behind Wash Woods reads something like folklore, although all of the details are true. The community was established under the most unlikely of terms: a shipwreck along the Atlantic. While the time frame is not certain, it is believed this wreck happened as early as the 16th century.
Surviving passengers repurposed the cypress wood that washed to the shore after the wreck for building some of the town’s earliest structures, including the church. The foundations for this community were strong, as the town survived well into the turn of the 20th century. At one point, Wash Woods housed a United States Coast Guard station, grocery store, a school, and two churches. More than 300 people called this coastal site home, working as farmers, fishermen, hunting guides, and more.
One of the promising points about Wash Woods was the quality of soil found there. The pristine, coastal location made for rich soil where crops could thrive. In addition to fish and crabs nearby,
berries and waterfowl provided plenty of nutrition and opportunity for prosper.
So what is it about Wash Woods that makes it such a heavy place to visit? Despite the fact that this town eventually thrived, there’s no escaping the fact that it was a shipwreck that set the community in place. In fact, the town had no roads leading in or out, promoting the idea of further isolation and despair undoubtedly felt by its first residents.
In addition to the feeling of being stranded, there was a literal chill in the air from the Atlantic’s harsh winds. Storms were a constant threat, causing waves of saltwater to interrupt much of the farming. This, in fact, is why the name “Wash Woods” was chosen. By 1920s, most of the town had evacuated and the Hurricane of 1933 essentially cleared out the town.
Remains of this structure can still be seen today, as the site happens to be located at the very popular False Cape State Park. Most haunting are the graveyards and church steeple left behind. Anyone interested in seeing this site faces limited access to one of the most southeastern locations of Virginia. The two access points are through the National Wildlife Refuge or North Carolina’s Outer Banks shores.
Have you made the journey to False Cape State Park? Be sure to share your experience there! For more information on Virginia’s abandoned towns, be sure to read about
These 7 Ghost Towns That Are Hauntingly Beautiful.