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Custis Tombs

Important Notices

COVID-19 & the VBWT: Be Safe While OutdoorsDWR encourages you to be safe while outdoors. Before heading out, first check with individual sites on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail for any COVID-19 policies or closures. This information is typically posted on a site's own website. Remember to maintain CDC social distancing guidelines while enjoying the outdoors.

Description

This historical landmark, located along the tidal Plantation Creek, was once the site of the former Arlington mansion. It is now a 7-acre meadow with woodland edges and the resting place of John Custis II (1628 – 1695) and his grandson, John Custis IV (1678 – 1749).

Visitors may walk short mowed paths through the meadows to view the tidal creek, mudflats, and woodland edges. At falling tides and low tide, this is a great spot to look for shorebirds, such as American oystercatchers, dunlin, semipalmated plover, and black-bellied plover. Other birds that may be seen here include bald eagle, winter waterfowl, seabirds, great blue heron, great egret, orchard oriole, indigo bunting, and grassland birds. Songbirds may be found amongst the woodland edges. The meadow is a nice spot to view butterflies.

Interpretive signs explain the history of the site.

Historical Background:

John Custis II built a mansion on a large plantation that once numbered over 1000 acres near the bank of this creek, now named Plantation Creek. He named his mansion Arlington. It was a working plantation and acquired considerable wealth from its crops, particularly tobacco. When John Custis II died, his grandson, John Custis IV inherited the estate. However, by the early 1700s, Arlington and its surrounding buildings were essentially gone—only the tombs remained.

John Custis II’s great grandson (the third one), whose name was George Washington Parke Custis, owned property on the Potomac River near Washington. He named the property Arlington as a tribute to the family’s former home in Virginia. This very plantation later became Arlington National Cemetery.

Notes:

  • There are no facilities on site.
  • Do not park in the Homeowner Association parking lot or trespass onto the Association’s property. Park in the marked parking lot for the Custis Tombs, which is a small, grassy gravel lot bordered by old telephone poles.
  • Wear insect repellent.

Directions

Location: Just past 2185 Arlington Chase Rd., Cape Charles, VA 23310

From U.S. 13 in Cape Charles, travel south for 3.6 miles. Turn right on Arlington Road/ Rt. 644. Follow the signs to Custis Tombs as the road winds for 2 miles (Arlington Rd becomes Custis Tomb Rd). Turn right as Custis Tomb Rd becomes Arlington Chase Rd. Park in the marked parking lot for the Custis Tombs, which is a small, grassy gravel lot bordered by old telephone poles.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: Eastern Shore of Virginia Welcome Center: 757-331-1660
  • Website
  • Access: Open Daily, Free

Birds Recently Seen at Custis Tombs (as reported to eBird)

  • American Oystercatcher
  • Laughing Gull
  • Forster's Tern
  • Royal Tern
  • Sandwich Tern
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Osprey
  • Northern Flicker
  • Eastern Kingbird

Seasonal Bird Observations

Facilities

  • Hiking Trails
  • Information
  • Parking