Part of the mission of Fauquier County Parks and Recreation is to preserve local history. To that end, the Department maintains a repository of artifacts relating to county history from prehistoric times to the present day. The number of artifacts increases on a regular basis, as new collections are acquired through donation, loan, or purchase, and as new archaeological surveys are undertaken in the county.
There are currently 5,713 artifacts ranging in size from prehistoric stone flakes that measure several millimeters on a side, up to an actual caboose. The artifacts are made of many materials, including glass, metal, minerals, ceramics, film, plastic, paper, wood, fiber, and leather, and were used in activities such as hunting, mining, construction, transportation, agriculture, military, and domestic life. At present there are 946 artifacts on display at several Parks and Recreation sites, including School House #18, the Warrenton Greenway Caboose and Shanty, and the Gold Mining Camp at Monroe Park. Another 1,580 are stored, protected, and preserved in a facility in which environmental factors are maintained at acceptable levels for museum collections. There are an additional 3,030 artifacts awaiting transition to the storage facility. It is hoped to one day allow internet access to the artifacts, via museum collection management software containing detailed information and photograph(s).
A trench left by the
The Gold Mining Camp Museum at Monroe Park, in Goldvein, Virginia, celebrates Fauquier County's mining heritage and has been declared the Official Gold Mining Interpretive Center of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Museum consists of three buildings: an Assay Office, Mess Hall, and a Bunk House. These buildings re-create a typical mining camp in Fauquier County from the early 20th Century and house artifacts from various Virginia mines and show the daily life of an miner. The museum is open on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm and on Sunday,12:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Starting in March and ending in November, free gold panning demonstrations (weather permitting) are available Wednesday to Sunday at 2:00 pm, with an additional demonstration on Saturday at 10:00 am. For more information, visit the museum's website at www.goldvein.com or call the park office at (540) 752-5330.
This popular walking, jogging, and biking trail in downtown Warrenton was constructed over an abandoned railway line which has its own unique history.
The Warrenton Branch was a part of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad that was supposed to link its namesakes while passing through each county seat along the way. The plan to pass through Warrenton was abandoned because of the steep grades around the town. The residents of Warrenton were outraged and demanded that they have a railroad stop in their town. The Warrenton Branch was offered as a compromise and ran from Calverton to Warrenton.
The Warrenton Depot
The Warrenton Branch was at its height in the early 20th century, but by 1948 the line was no longer in steady use and the Warrenton station was falling into disrepair. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the line saw ever dwindling traffic until it was abandoned in 1988.
Today, the section of the Warrenton Branch that ran through downtown Warrenton from the depot to Rt. 29 has been converted into a walking, jogging, and biking path. Indications of its history can still be seen in the depot building, which stands today as a restaurant, and the red caboose which sits at the side of the trail and is cared for by the Friends of the Warrenton Caboose. The caboose is open for public tours. The trail is open daily from dawn to dusk.
John Marshall Birthplace Park
Chief Justice John Marshall
John Marshall served his country as a Culpeper Minuteman during the Revolutionary war and studied law at William and Mary. He was a member of the Virginia State Assembly, in which he represented Fauquier County, and the United States House of Representatives, among numerous other political posts. He was appointed to the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1801 during the Presidency of John Adams. He would go on to serve on the Supreme Court for thirty-four years.
Marshall is perhaps best known for his decisions while serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was the first justice to establish the right of judicial review, in his most famous decision, Marbury v. Madison.
The John Marshall Birthplace Park became Fauquier County’s first public park in the late 1970s. By that time, two markers had been placed on the property by two separate legal fraternities. The first marker was erected in 1902 by Phi Delta Phi, a legal fraternity of George Washington University. A second marker enclosed the previous one and was unveiled in 1928.
The current park has a trail which ends in the marker and a small picnic area. Interpretive signage at the trail head adds to the educational experience. The trail is also popular for birdwatchers. More information on birding at the park can be found at http://www.dgif.state.va.us. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Situated near a railroad and on the banks of the Rappahannock River, the area which is designated for the proposed Rappahannock Station Park was the site of two significant Civil War battles.
View of the Encampment, Rappahannock Station.
A second battle occurred on November 7, 1863. General Lee had withdrawn his troops beyond the Rappahannock River, intending to use the river as a defensible line throughout the winter. Major General John Sedgwick and Major General William French of the Union Army foiled Lee’s plans and attacked. The result was a stunning Union victory that was much bemoaned by the Confederate troops. Lee gathered what was left of his forces and marched them south for fear of becoming pinned against the Rapidan River. At the end of the fighting, 1670 Confederate troops were killed as opposed to 419 Union troops.
The Fauquier County Parks and Recreation department acquired the land after interest was expressed by a developer in creating a subdivision there. Thanks to the actions of the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Fauquier County Government, the core of the battlefield was preserved from development and there are plans to create a park on this land. For more information on the battle, or to follow the National Park Service’s tour of the battlefield, please go to http://www.nps.gov/frsp/rapp.htm.
Rappahannock Landing Archaeological Survey-2006
Rappahannock Landing Archaeological Survey-2009
Germantown was Fauquier County’s first permanent settlement. It was founded by German miners brought to the Rappahannock River valley by Alexander Spotswood, then lieutenant governor of Virginia, in the early 1700’s to excavate iron ore found on his property. As the name suggests, it was home to a large group of German immigrants whose names survive in the County today. Common Fauquier names such as Fishback, Rector, Kemper, and Hitt all date back to this early settlement.
Outline of the German Town
of 1729, reconstructed
The settlers, at least until the American Revolution, made their fortune growing and selling tobacco. As the economy of the country changed, however, the Germantown families soon turned to growing corn and wheat and raising livestock. The population of Germantown shifted around during the 1800s, following the popularity of the new Warrenton Road.
In 1985, the United States Soil Conservation Service dammed up the Licking Run to help control flooding and created Fauquier County’s largest body of water. It was along this lake in 1987 that Crockett Park was created, so named for Charlie Mitchell Crockett who donated money to purchase the land needed for the park. Crockett’s wife was a descendent of the original Weaver family who had settled in Germantown. The lake located in Crockett Park was named Germantown Lake in honor of that early settlement. More can be learned about early German settlements at www.germanna.org/history.html.
Civil War fighting took place in and around the village of Upperville. The Route 50 Corridor is today known as “Mosby Country” because of his numerous activities along the road. Some of his more famous exploits and battles took place at the nearby towns of Aldie and Middleburg.
The most famous battle in Upperville, however, took place in the days leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg. In June of 1863, the area played host to many battles between Union and Confederate troops. Most of the battles were efforts by the Confederates, led by General J.E.B Stuart, to ensure General Robert E. Lee’s troops safe passage to Pennsylvania. In the end, the efforts proved successful and Lee’s troops completed their march through the Shenandoah Valley unscathed and continued on to Gettysburg.
John Singleton Mosby
Today, the site is commemorated with a historical marker that stands in Upperville Park. Across the street is a cemetery in which are buried some of the casualties of that battle, including native resident J. Warren Brent. More information about the battles, as well as a self-guided tour through the area can be found at http://www.civilwartraveler.com/ .
Vint Hill Village GreenBuilt in 1942 by the U. S. Army, Vint Hill Farms Station was used to develop and implement highly sensitive electronics and surveillance systems. When the first soldiers of the 2nd Signal Service Battalion arrived at the farm in June 1942, they established the Army’s first large field station, known simply as “Monitoring Station No. 1,” in the “Barns”.
The Army built more than 500,000 square feet of office and warehouse space and all the amenities to make it a self-sufficient community including some sports facilities.
The Department of Defense closed Vint Hill’s in September 1997 and the Fauquier County Parks and Recreation Department acquired the recreational facilities in 2001. The Community Center and Park began operation that same year.
Named Vint Hill Village Green, the facility brought some significant “firsts” to Fauquier County. A partial list includes:
- First public gym
- First lighted tennis courts
- First lighted outdoor basketball courts
- First public racquet ball courts
School House #18 is located at 7592 East Main Street, Marshall, VA, adjacent to the new Northern Fauquier Community Park. Park grounds are open from dawn to dusk. Additional tours can be arranged by calling the Northern Fauquier Community Park at (540) 422-8570.
The theater was likely built in the 1940s during a build-up military housing at the base. It was certainly in existence in 1952 as evidenced by historical aerial photography. Vint Hill Farms Station was the site of the Army’s WWII cryptologic training school and the Army’s first large field signal station known as “Monitoring Station No. 1.”1 The school trained army personnel in cryptanalytic, traffic analytic and cryptographic equipment maintenance. Soon after the Vint Hill Farm was purchased in 1942, operations began in the former dairy barn to intercept radio communications.2 Operations continued through the Cold War era.
Aware of the possibility of morale problems due to living conditions, health, and fatigue, the Army made efforts to create opportunities for leisure activities, including organized baseball games and boxing matches.3 The Vint Hill Theater may have been constructed to facilitate higher morale.
The architecture of the theater building is characterized by its projecting facade and parapet topped with a large horizontal sign spelling “THEATER.” A marquee below the sign advertises showings. The brick building is rectangular in plan with a flat roof.
The storefront windows have historically significant aluminum frames. Although aluminum windows appear in the early 1900s, it wasn’t until after WWII when aluminum windows gained more widespread use. The exterior ticket windows, which are character-defining features, contribute to the significance of the building.
The interior of the theater features a full stage with a curved proscenium. The theater seating, which appears to be early if not original, are arranged in slightly curving rows typical for this type of venue. The auditorium’s original sloping concrete floor remains intact.
In the rear wall of the auditorium is the window to the projection booth. A film projector in the booth would have projected movies through the window to a screen at the stage.
With a shift to multiplex cinemas in the late-20th century, many single-screen cinema theaters were unable to compete and closed. More recently, smaller theaters struggling to afford expensive digital projectors are at risk.
The Vint Hill Theater retains its historical integrity through preservation of its original character- defining features. Its continued use as a community venue adds to the retention of its historical character.
1 David P. Mowry, Vint Hill Farms Station, as viewed at https://www.nsa.gov/public_info/_files/crypto_almanac_50th/Vint_Hill_Farms_Station.pdf
2 James L. Gilbert and John P. Finnegan, editors, U.S. Ary Signals Intelligence in World War II: A Documentary History, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D. C. , U.S. Government Printing Office,
1993, as viewed here.
3 City Series Opens Today on Ellipse, The Washington Post, August 27, 1945, p. 8; Sailors, Soldiers Begin Slugfest In Service Ring Meet Tonight, The Washington Post, March 25, 1947, p. 10.
Date Last Modified: 12/15/2015