As early as the 1650s, the peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay today known as Mathews County, was once settled by the English colonists. Mathews County is only 94 square miles of land and includes neighboring Gwyn’s Island, easily accessible by a bridge crossing to the island from Mathews. Because of its location on the Bay, Mathews was a thriving place for trade on the waterways in colonial times. In 1791, Brigadier General Thomas Mathews introduced a resolution to create the county of Mathews, to separate it from the land mass of Gloucester County. General Mathews was successful and Mathews County now bears his name.
Mathews: a Ship Building Center
The new county adopted a seal in 1793 that symbolized its deep connection to ship building. Because of its proximity to the main waterway, Chesapeake Bay, Mathews was a logical site of ship building for the Continental army of the Revolutionary era, and was important in the 1830s, and subsequent decades, too.
Famous Americans from Mathews County, Virginia
Famous people who originate from Mathews County Virginia include a woman ahead of her time: Captain Sally Tompkins. Tompkins was the only woman commissioned officer in the Confederate army, and she was born in Mathews County.
Waterfront Estates, Country Estates, and Historic Property, in Mathews County
Today, the county still has historical residences and public buildings in full use. Many of these date back to the 18th Century, including Mathews Courthouse, Woodstock, Providence, and Green Plains.
Mathews County Historical Society
The Gwyn’s Island Museum began as a community project by the Mathews County Historical Society and evolved into a growing organization dedicated to telling the history of Gwyn’s Island and Mathews County.
Contemporary Mathews and Gwyn’s Island
Today, Mathews and Gwyn’s Island retain much of the rural charm of the Northern Neck of Virginia. Fisherman’s cottages, farm houses, and working farms still dot the landscape along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Many of the families who lived here during Colonial times have descendants living in Mathews County today.
Seafood Restaurants in Mathews, Virginia
Since it lies so close to the Chesapeake Bay, Mathews seafood restaurants do have the ‘catch of the day’ in season, and fresh from the boat. Sandpiper Reef Restaurant at Misty Cove and Seabreeze are two seafood places where the visitor will eat the freshest local seafood. Other types of restaurants and diners are also located in Mathews, especially near the waterfront, at select locations.
New Point Comfort Lighthouse in Mathews
One of the oldest lighthouses on the Chesapeake Bay, the New Point Comfort Lighthouse, is located at the southern tip of Mathews County, at the mouth of the Mobjack Bay. The New Point Comfort Lighthouse was completed on January 17, 1805 and rose 63 feet into the air. Since then it has barely survived many hurricanes and northeasters that passed over this part of the Chesapeake Bay. Today the New Point Comfort Lighthouse is still in need of some repairs and maintenance, and the Mathews County Historical Scoiety is leading the way in the movement to help preserve the lighthouse. Visitors may still visit the beach where it stands and observe the structure, which is the third oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay.
For a relaxing day on the Chesapeake Bay try the Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve, right in Mathews County. The salt marshes are nearby, and the beach is rather narrow. Over 185 species of birds have been spotted in this part of Mathews County.
A visit to the New Point Comfort Nature Preserve provides great insight into natural resources, landscape, and wildlife on the Chesapeake Bay. Use the Observation Walkway to look at New Point Comfort Lighthouse, the third oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay that is still standing. Launch a canoe or kayak from the beach and explore the Chesapeake Bay salt marshes and its natural inhabitants.
Mathews County Marinas
There are several excellent choices for the boating enthusiast in Mathews County, Virginia. Queens Creek Marina in Mathews County accommodates sailboats and fuel powered boats with separate slips for each. A fish cleaning station is available for the fisherman anxious to clean and eat a fresh catch. Storage is available for boats on trailers.
Or, try the Mobjack Bay Marina in North, Virginia. A total of 5 transient slips are available for boaters on a Chesapeake Bay journey. Boaters may obtain gas and diesel fuel, as well as basic provisions from the Ship’s Store. Facilities include restrooms and hot showers, as well as a picnic area. A boat launch and a travel lift are available at Mobjack Bay Marina, where boats are repaired as well.
For the boating enthusiast with discriminating taste, Mathews Yacht Club in Mathews Virginia may be the right choice. Boaters are welcome to stop by and purchase gas, but only members may use the slips here. This exclusive club has a small waiting list for membership. Inquire with the Mathews Yacht Club for more information on obtaining a membership. Phone: (804) 725-3165.
In nearby Tappahannock, Virginia, the Heritage Park Resort makes some handcrafted wines for visitors to purchase.
Coast Guard Station Milford Haven is located in Mathews County Virginia, adjacent to the Gwyn’s Island Bridge. This station has approximately 25 active duty and reserve personnel and handles Search and Rescue missions on the Chesapeake Bay in the Mathews County area and the vicinity.
Mathews Outdoor Activities
Mathews has a great deal to offer for the outdoor activity enthusiast. Try bicycling or scenic tours of historic Mathews. Or, visit some of the natural areas. Enjoy camping at several campgrounds including: Thousand Trails, New Point Campground and Gwynn’s Island Camper’s Haven. Outdoor sports popular in the Mathews County area include fishing, boating and kayaking on the inland waterways.
Mathews Proximity to Major Cities (Richmond, Norfolk, Washington D.C.)
Mathews County is convenient to large urban areas such as the Washington DC Metro area, which is only two hours away. Mathews County is approximately one hour’s drive to Richmond and about one and one half hours to Norfolk.
Mathews County Public Schools
Mathews County has three public schools for the children of residents: Lee Jackson Elementary School, Thomas Hunter Middle School, and Mathews High School. For more information about the Mathews County school system, visit http://www.mathews.k12.va.us.
Colleges and Community Colleges
Mathews County is the second smallest county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mathews County does not have any colleges or universities within its borders but many excellent schools are located nearby, within commuting distance. Students living in Mathews County may commute to the College of William and Mary, Hampton University, Christopher Newport University, ECPI College of Technology, Newport News Campus or Rappahannock Community College, Glenns Campus.