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Colchester is a former tobacco port established in 1753. The port town was located on the old post road and Thomas Mason (son of George Mason) operated a ferry across the Occoquan River here. In 1798, Mason built a wooden bridge across the river; the bridge was washed away around 1807. Only one of Colchester's original buildings exists—the Fairfax Arms (10712 Old Colchester Road), which had been an ordinary and now is a privately owned dwelling. The decline of the tobacco trade, silting of the river, and diversion of most shipping to the towns of Alexandria and Occoquan caused Colchester's decline.
Portions of roads that accessed Colchester still exist. Colchester Road in Clifton is part of SR 612, and Old Colchester Road, which runs north and becomes Telegraph Road leading to Alexandria, is part of SR 611.
- Archibald Henderson, the longest-serving Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, serving from 1820 to 1859
- Alexander Henderson, his father, a member of the Virginia General Assembly and a Virginia delegate to the Mount Vernon Conference in 1785
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