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The town, chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1790, began as a staging and headquarters area for construction of the canal. At its height the town boasted the Patowmack Canal Company superintendent's house, a market, grist mill, sawmill, foundry, inn, ice house, workers' barracks, boarding houses, and a number of residences. Boaters stopped there to wait their turn through the locks.
Tourists who came to view Great Falls frequently dined and lodged at one of the town's taverns. Dickey's Tavern, constructed circa 1797, was a popular destination for both tourists and sport fishermen. It was the last remaining building in Matildaville before it was destroyed by fire in 1950.
The town declined after the Patowmack Canal closed in 1828. An attempt to reinvent the town as a textile manufacturing center, modeled after the town of Lowell, Massachusetts, was made in 1839 by the Great Falls Manufacturing Company. The Company purchased the Patowmack Canal land at Great Falls along with several town lots. The town was re-chartered as South Lowell.
Currently all that remains of the town are a series of ruins on the grounds of Great Falls Park.
- Senese, Dr. Donald J.,Great Falls Park's Locks Recall Washington's Potomac Canal Archived 2011-09-29 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved August 15, 2011
- Robison, Debbie, Formation and Development of the Town of Matildaville, Virginia, Retrieved August 15, 2011
- National Park Service,Chronology of the Great Falls, Retrieved August 15, 2011
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