Newport News is an independent city in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia. It is at the south-western end of the Virginia Peninsula, on the north shore of the James River extending southeast from Skiffe's Creek along many miles of waterfront to the river's mouth at Newport News Point on the harbor of Hampton Roads. The area known as Newport News was part of Warwick County, one of the eight original shires of Virginia formed by the House of Burgesses in the British Colony of Virginia by order of King Charles I in 1634. The county was largely composed of farms and undeveloped land until almost 250 years later. In 1881, 15 years of explosive development began under the leadership of Collis P. Huntington, whose new Peninsula Extension of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway from Richmond opened up transportation along the Peninsula and provided a new pathway for the railroad to bring West Virginia bituminous coal to port for coastal shipping and worldwide export. With the new railroad came a terminal and coal piers where the colliers were loaded.