It is roughly west of Washington, D.C.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.5 square miles (24.6 km²), of which, 9.3 square miles (24.0 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km²) of it (2.52%) is water.
Despite claims by the current LeHew Family living in Front Royal, descendants of Peter LeHew, Front Royal was never called "LeHewtown". Nicolas Lehugh was an indentured servant who earned his 80 acres (not 200 as alleged) after ten years of servitude. When he died, Peter LeHew and his wife came forth to claim the land as Nicolas had no will. They soon sold the property which included not only "the 80 acres, but its three slaves plus an infant to one of them," to John Jordan.(Elburn)
Front Royal has been know as "Loce" and then as "Helltown" in the 18th century, due to the abundance of rough and wild mountaineers and river travelers in the area who came into town looking for alcohol and women.(Lillard)
Rail service was established in 1854 with the construction of the Alexandria, Orange and Manassas Gap Railroad between Manassas and Riverton. This line was soon extended to Strasburg in time to become a factor in the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, 1862 and throughout the Civil War. Lumber, agriculture, manufacturing and grain mills provided employment in the region for decades after the Civil War.
Front Royal is situated near the junction of the North Fork and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.
The origin of the name "Front Royal" remains uncertain. The first of two current versions of the origin holds that, in early decades of European settlement, the area was referred to in French as "le front royal," meaning the British frontier. French settlers, trappers, and explorers in the Ohio Territory of the mid-1700s were referring to the land grant made by King Charles II, then in control of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, Baron of Cameron. In English, "le front royal" is translated to the "Royal Frontier."
However, the more colorful and legendary version of the origin of the name has it that, during colonial days, a giant oak tree - the "Royal" Tree of England - stood in the public square where Chester and Main Streets now join. It was there that the local militia, composed of raw recruits slow to learn military commands and maneuvers, were drilled. On one occasion, the sorely tired drill sergeant became so exasperated by the clumsy efforts of his troops and their failure to follow his command that he hit upon a phrase that all could understand and shouted, "front the Royal Oak!" Among the spectators was a former professional soldier. He was so amused by the officer's coined order that he and his friends found much sport in telling the story, repeating "front the Royal Oak" until Front Royal was the resulting derivation.
Commercially, it is the home to a Virginia Inland Port situated on U.S. Route 522.
Like many outer suburbs, Front Royal is facing the challenge of providing jobs to its community and preventing a slide into being a bedroom community. It also faces tensions between long-time residents, recent (10-20 years ago) arrivals and more affluent newly-arrived residents, many of whom commute daily to Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. This struggle was reflected in Centex's huge 1,862-home "The Villages at Twin Rivers" proposal, which sought to transform 579 agriculturally-zoned acres just outside the town into a residential district. The proposal was large enough that Centex is offering to build a new interchange on Interstate 66 and help fund a new elementary school. However in late 2006, Centex scaled back its plans and is no longer offering to build an elementary school.
Front Royal is also home to the Avtex Fibers Superfund Site Once Virginia's largest Superfund site, this former rayon manufacturing facility is being recovered to provide a eco-friendly office park, 30 acres of soccer fields, and of conservancy park along the Shenandoah River. Front Royal is also home to the Canine Enforcement Training Center (CETC) which trains dogs in various detection abilities for numerous Federal Agencies.
Important tourist attractions include Skyline Caverns, the northern entrance to Shenandoah National Park, and Skyline Drive. It also has a large number of American Civil War attractions, both in the town and the surrounding Shenandoah Valley.
The Front Royal Cardinals baseball team joined the Valley League in 1984. Games are played in Bing Crosby Stadium. Bing Crosby donated the land and money to build the original stadium when he became aware of Front Royal in 1953 as a result of a fellow Irish Catholic named Frank Nesbitt. In 1953, Frank Nesbitt coached a Little League team from Front Royal which came in 3rd in the world tournament. Freddie Moore was one of the players on that team. Freddie Moore later became active in Front Royal Little League. After Moore died of cancer one of Front Royal's Little League fields was named in his honor.
The Confederate Museum on Chester Street has many interesting artifacts from the 1860s.
Front Royal has been designated the canoe capital of Virginia.
There were 5,425 households out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.8% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the town the population was spread out with 25.7% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $34,786, and the median income for a family was $42,675. Males had a median income of $32,373 versus $24,182 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,901. About 9.1% of families and 14.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 13.2% of those age 65 or over.