A tiny village bisected by the Rapidan River, though with its principal
section on the Culpeper side, Rapidan began in the late 18th century
as a small milling community known as Waugh's Ford. Reflecting optimism
for future progress, the settlement was renamed Rapid Ann Station with
the coming of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in 1854. It was renamed
Rapidan in 1886. As a strategic railroad stop and river crossing, the
village suffered several Civil War raids during which most of its buildings
were destroyed. The village emerged from the war as a shipping point
for wood products. Its current buildings, mostly dating from the late
1800s and early 1900s, range from simple vernacular structures to large
Italianate and late Victorian farmhouses. Especially significant are
the two 1874 Carpenter's Gothic churches: Waddell
Memorial Presbyterian Church on the Orange County side and Emmanuel
Episcopal Church in Culpeper County.
The Rapidan Historic District is located at the junction of VA 614, VA 615, VA 673, in Rapidan.