Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Boats on the Occoquan

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I love summer. And summer never seems quite complete without water and boats. And one of my favorite places to see boats on the water is on the Occoquan River. I'll never forget the first time I road over the Occoquan via I-95. What a view! The shimmering blue water with all the boat docks simply begged a tour. Well my son and I had an opportunity to explore the area up close!

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In the distance is the bridge for Route 1, and beyond that is the bridge for I-95...

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In the other direction the Occoquan empties into the Potomac River which then empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

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I confess as much as I love all this deep sea ports, I'm still terrified by the deep water.

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Long story from my past about that fear. Nevertheless, summer is never quite complete without water.

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Since I was doing this post, I thought I'd do a bit of research. After all, since I live in Virginia now and drive across the Occoquan, in one part of Northern Virginia or another, I should know something about it. After all, it's a part of our geography, which surely drives the history of the area. Well after doing some research, I was rather surprised at how much "in my backyard" this river is.

The river was named by the Dogue tribe of Indians. Occoquan means "at the head of the water" or "at the end of the water." It is formed by both Broad Run and Ceder Run. There are a total of 3 dams along the length of the river. The Occoquan River pretty much forms the boundary between Fairfax and Prince William Counties. The famed John Smith of Historic Jamestowne explored the waterways of Virginia, including the Occoquan.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chatham Manor and the George Washington Connection

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We continued our historical journey from Ferry Farm to Chatham Manor, whose history has intertwined through the centuries and been lost to time...

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The gardens are mostly late 19th century whereas the buildings are mostly from the 18th century...

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William Fitzhugh built this Georgian estate between 1768 and 1771.

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Chatham was named for the  Englishman William Pitt, Earl of Chatham...
Fitzhugh had served in the House of Burgesses with George Washington...

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Fitzhugh's daughter, Molly, married George Washington Parke Custis (grandson of Martha Washington)...

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Thus Molly became mistress of Arlington House...

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Their daughter married Robert E. Lee...

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During the Civil War the estate on the bluff overlooking the Rappahannock River belonged to the Lacey family.

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During the war Union Forces used Chatham Manor for headquarters...

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President Abraham Lincoln visited here to plan strategy with the general.

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The Battle of Fredericksburg ensued all around the property...

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After the battle, casualties were brought into the manor...which became a hospital.

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Clara Barton helped with the wounded in the makeshift hospital...

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Poet Walt Whitman spent time with the wounded and wrote letters for them...

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After the war the manor was desolate, blood stained, and beyond destroyed...

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The Lacy family sold the manor in 1872...

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Numerous ownerships occurred through the 1920's when the Devore family restored the property.

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In 1931 the restored property was sold to a  Mr. Pratt.

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In 1975 the National Park Service inherited Pratt's home...

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Other bits of trivia:

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Fitzhugh's father-in-law, Colonel Peter Randolph, was Thomas Jefferson's boyhood guardian...

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I loved all the architectural details!

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The clay marble was a great find, considering that I had just blogged about the history of marbles!

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I was especially pleased to learn of the George Washington connection connection because many of our trips this year revolved around where all the family members lived. So far we had been to Arlington House. More locations were on our to-go list. Stay tuned!