The opportunities presented by water travel appealed to settlers on a frontier. In the southeastern part of Rockingham County, where the North and South rivers meet to form the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, Port Republic was chartered in 1802 on twenty acres with two roads running parallel to the river. By the 1830s, it had become a small industrial center with numerous enterprises sending their goods on shallow-draft riverboats, called gundalows, downriver to Harpers Ferry, the Potomac, and Baltimore. Port Republic has survived frequent flooding, and, although many buildings have been lost, the village boasts some excellent nineteenth-century dwellings from its boom years before railroads shifted commerce to neighboring towns.
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