Downtown Herndon, c. 1950. Photo by C. H. Ruth. The most important stop on the railroad between Falls Church and Leesburg, Herndon was the commercial center in a dairy-farming region. The farmers shipped milk to Washington on the railroad. Reaching this area in 1857, the railroad was the reason the town existed at all, but the town provided a lot of business to the W&OD. Herndon was the most-distant of the railroad suburbs on this line. Incorporated as a town in 1879, Herndon was a cultural center of Fairfax County. Herndon had:
After the Civil War, black residents considered it to be a progressive place by the standards of Fairfax County. Unfortunately They found employment here, although most of them resided just beyond the town's boundaries, for example, in Oak Grove or in Cooktown. They could shop in stores but not dine in restaurants.
- After 1889 it also had a library, organized by a group of women volunteers.
- a fire department (1923), the only one between Leesburg, Fairfax, McLean and Vienna;
- its own high school, although Virginia did not require a high school education;
- a chapter of Future Farmers of America (beginning in 1930) at the high school;
- an Episcopal "seminary" or secondary school, from 1879 to 1926;
- A troop of Boy Scouts, sponsored by the Town, beginning in 1933;
- a chapter of the Rotary Club (1939);
- The Herndon Home Interest Garden Club (1935);
- The Young Woman's Club (1939);