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Located on the Rappahannock River near the head of navigation at the fall line, Fredericksburg developed as the frontier of colonial Virginia shifted west from the coastal plain into the Piedmont.

The land on which the city was founded was part of a tract patented in 1671. Alexander Spotswood sponsored a German settlement called Germanna on the Rapidan River, a tributary of the Rappahannock upstream from the future site of the city.

It promoted the development of a canal on the Rappahannock and construction of a turnpike and plank road to bind the interior country to the market town.

By 1837, a north-south railroad, which became the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, linked the town to Richmond, the state capital.

The city has close associations with George Washington, whose family in 1738 moved to Ferry Farm in Stafford County near the Rappahannock River opposite Fredericksburg. To the right is the steeple of Fredericksburg Baptist Church, and toward the center is the tower of St. To the left of center are two mill buildings of the manufacturing district.