A granite marker in a circle in the center of town commemorates the landing here on May 5, 1607, of English settlers. Beginning in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Claremont was a busy port town on the navigable portion of the James River, shipping many goods, but especially hogsheads of tobacco.
After the Civil War, Willie Allen, who inherited Claremont Manor, moved to New York and sold the property. J. Frank Mancha, a Maryland real estate developer took on the project to develop, subdivide and colonize a new town there in 1879. Incorporated in 1886, the town of Claremont became the eastern terminus of the new Atlantic and Danville Railway (A&D), a narrow gauge railroad, which was completed to a point near Emporia called James River Junction, where it connected with a standard gauge track towards Danville. Unfortunately for Claremont, the A&D decided to connect its western leg with a new eastern terminus in West Norfolk on the harbor of Hampton Roads, and the line to Claremont, which was never standard-gauged, went into semi-abandonment. After some use for lumber transport, the rails were removed in the 1930s.
In the years since, the area has remained as a rural enclave, but some resort use developed along the bluffs and beaches of the James River. At the lower of these two levels, Claremont's Sunken Meadow section along the riverfront was badly damaged in 2003 by Hurricane Isabel.
In 2006, the old A&D station at Claremont Beach (village, not the wharf) was still standing.