It is located in the Shenandoah Valley, near many important historical markers of the Civil War and Shenandoah National Park. A portion of Interstate 64 falls within the city limits of Waynesboro, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, and the Appalachian Trail are less than five miles away. The town is perhaps best known for being the home of P. Buckley Moss and the P. Buckley Moss Museum, which attracts 45,000 visitors annually. A large DuPont plant (now Invista and owned by Koch Industries) and the associated Benger Laboratory where Lycra (a very famous brand of spandex) was invented, as well as a large textile mill called Wayn-Tex (now owned by Mohawk Industries), were significant employers for residents through much of the 20th century. Waynesboro is home to the corporate headquarters of Ntelos (a regional wireless and telecommunications company serving Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio). Tourism, industrial production, and retail remain vital to the Waynesboro economy. The Generals of the Valley Baseball League play there.
Waynesboro is a principal city of the Staunton-Waynesboro micropolitan area, which includes all of Augusta County and the independent cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.
Located in the British Colony of Virginia, even after the American Revolution and independence and statehood for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the areas west of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains were known as the frontier. Travel over the mountains in a wagon was near impossible, except where nature afforded some gap between them. One such wind gap, Rockfish Gap, is located near Waynesboro, making the area a convenient location for a stop for many who wished to venture west.
The area was commonly referred to as Teasville (or Teesville) early on. There are a couple of theories for the name: first, that it was named after the tavern owned by Jacob Teas and his wife, and second, that it was named after the Tees brothers. It is believed that many stayed the night at the Teas’ tavern, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Chastellux. In a letter the marquis de Chastellux describes the tavern as one of the worst in America and affirms that Jefferson had stayed there and told him of the place.
As early as 1798, the current downtown area was plotted and sold. On January 8, 1801, the town Waynesborough was officially recognized by the state of Virginia, and was incorporated by 1834.
Some of the remaining buildings from this period of its history include the Plumb House (now a museum open for tours seasonally) and the Coiner-Quesenbury House, built in 1806, believed to be the first brick house built in the town, which is still standing on Main Street.
Population growth to the town was slow at first. In 1810, the town had a population of 250. By 1860, that number grew to 457. The town maintained a steady stream of visitors, however, due to its position on the Valley Turnpike, which took advantage of connections through Rockfish Gap.
On March 2, 1865, Waynesboro was the site of the last battle of the Civil War for the Confederate Lt. General Jubal A. Early. The Battle of Waynesboro lasted only 20 minutes, and was a final blow for the Confederate Army in the Shenandoah Valley. After losing this battle, Early relinquished the town and the valley to General Philip Sheridan. Some of the buildings from this period still show their scars from this battle.
After the war, the Waynesboro area became the junction of two railroad lines. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (running east to west) and the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, which soon became the Norfolk and Western Railway (running north to south). The lines met near Waynesboro, giving the town the nickname as the "Iron Cross".
The two towns voted for and approved of consolidation into a single town to be called Waynesboro-Basic in 1923. Due to the duplicitous actions of some of Waynesboro’s town leaders, namely Guy Branamen, the petition given to the state referred to the new town as merely Waynesboro. This became official in 1924, to the great outrage of the people of Basic City.
Since 1924, Waynesboro has made numerous territorial acquisitions from areas of Augusta County through annexation and officially became an independent city in 1948. In 2005, Waynesboro established a new charter, repealing one in place since 1948.