There are many stories about how Newport News got its name, but the most widely accepted version relates to the news of Captain Christopher Newport's arrival to the area in 1610. Newport met the ill and starving Jamestown Colonists on Mulberry Island (located offshore on the James River) with three vessels, an abundant supply of food and 150 men. As a way of thanking the Captain, citizens named the point of landing "Newport's News." Through the years, the "s" has been dropped, hence the name Newport News.
The Newport News Public School system is dedicated to the academic success of the community. The system is comprised of five preschool centers, 25 elementary schools, eight middle schools, one combined middle and high school, and five high schools, which are continuously praised for exceeding expectations and for effectively preparing students for college.
Newport News schools have been nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for their excellence and have more "Blue Ribbon Schools" than any other school division in Virginia. The system is also acknowledged for receiving high marks from the independent organization SchoolMatch, a nationwide service that helps families of corporate employees find schools that match the needs of their children. The organization has selected Newport News Public Schools as a "What Parents Want" award-winning school system.
Newport News is full of adventure and opportunities to learn, relax, and have fun. The legendary Civil War Battle that took place on the coast of Newport News left behind artifacts from the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (Merrimack). The Monitor's propeller and shaft can be viewed at The Mariners' Museum, the leading maritime museum in America. Newport News also played a key role in the Peninsula Campaign during the Civil War.
The city offers a wide network of biking and hiking trails, golf courses, campsites, acres of tennis courts, some of the best salt and freshwater fishing in all of Virginia, a five-star archery range (the only one on the East Coast), and a 30-acre aero model flying field. The James River features spectacular sunsets, a long fishing pier and room for picnics.
Newport News boasts a number of large parks each with unique facilities that provide enjoyment for the entire family. Huntington Park covers 60-acres of land with a public beach and public boat ramp, a rose garden, urban trout fishing in a 3-acre freshwater lake and Fort Fun, a 14,000-square foot playground that overlooks the James River. King-Lincoln Park overlooks the Hampton Roads waterfront at the south end of Newport News and is the setting for many summer events.
The Mariners' Museum Park is one of the nation's largest private urban parks with 550 acres of rolling woodlands and fields, the 167-acre Lake Maury and 5-mile Noland Trail. Newport News Park is the largest municipal park east of the Mississippi River and offers year-round camping (188 modern campsites), archery and an 18-hole championship disc golf course (one of the newest in Virginia).
The Newport News Golf Club is a 36-hole, full-service facility that provides a quality Country Club experience without the expense. Situated in an 8,000-acre park, both the Deer Run and Cardinal courses feature some of the best greens in the Tidewater area and have been given 3-1/2 stars by Golf Digest and named one of the "100 Best Places To Play in the Middle Atlantic" by The Washington Golf Monthly.
Newport News was first settled in 1621. Collis P. Huntington, a Northern railroad industrialist from Connecticut, introduced the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad to the area. In 1886, the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company was established and has built many of the U.S. super aircraft carriers including the USS Enterprise, the USS Kennedy, the USS Washington, the USS Vinson and the USS Roosevelt.
The city's location in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic makes for quick travel times, by plane, train or automobile to surrounding cities and the entire East Coast. Since its early days, its central location and access to the Atlantic from the James River have tied the city to the sea. Today that heritage continues in a city with a strong sense of history and a keen eye on the future.