Public Quarry at Government Island
Government Island Park and Historic Quarry
|Location||Stafford County, Virginia|
|Nearest city||Stafford, Virginia|
|Area||17.4 acres (7.0 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||03000457|
|Added to NRHP||May 30, 2007|
|Designated VLR||March 19, 2003|
Government Island Park and Historic Quarry in Stafford County, Virginia is the principal source of Aquia Creek sandstone, a building stone used in many of the early government buildings in Washington, D.C., including the U.S. Capitol and the White House. A quarry was established just off the Potomac River at Wigginton's Island on Aquia Creek by George Brent after 1694, providing stone for tombstones and to houses and churches in northern Virginia, including Gunston Hall, Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, Mount Airy in Richmond County, Virginia, and Aquia Church, as well as steps and walkways at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Washington selected Aquia sandstone as the primary material for use in Washington's government buildings. Acting on the government's behalf, the Wigginton's Island quarry was purchased by Pierre Charles L'Enfant in 1791, becoming known afterward as Government Island.
Use of the stone declined as its susceptibility to weathering was observed, and the quarry became worked out and derelict after the U.S. Civil War. The property was sold by the U.S. Government in 1963.
The property was acquired by Stafford County as a county park and opened to the public on November 6, 2010 with trails and markers highlighting the historical significance of the island. It is a designated site on the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Recreation: Walking Track/Trail: Government Island is roughly 17 acres of heavily wooded grounds containing a walking track/trail that is approximately 3 miles long. There are two distinct sections of the: the first section of the trail is paved and easily traversed, allowing it to be handicap accessible for approximately 1.5 miles; the second 1.5 miles are dirt trails cut through the wooded area (Stafford County Virginia Tourism). Along the trail there are many different markers and signs that explain the history, beauty, and the importance of the island. It has become the place to visit to view native plants, as well as birds and other wildlife.
Dog Walking: According to The Visit Fredericksburg website, the park has become a premier spot to walk a dog while taking in the history of the park. As long as your pet is on a leash it is welcome in the park.
Photography Location: This location, because of it beauty and easy access, has become a premier location for photographers both novice and expert. Local photographers The Portal Photography, as well as others, have taken many event photos at Government Island. It is a popular location to capture photos for family, prom, senior portraits, as well as other special occasions.
Wildlife: There are many local birds, both migratory and indigenous, that can be found in this location. The park is surrounded by water giving water foul, fish, turtles, and many insects the perfect habitat. Large wild animals have called this park home in the past. Currently the largest animals to make the island home are foxes, beavers, and squires.
Directions: Government Island is located at 191 Coal Landing Road, Stafford, VA, and 30 miles south of the Washington D.C. 495 beltway. From I-95, use exit 143-A: Make a right turn onto Route 1 South, go approximately two miles to coal landing road light; make a left onto Coal Landing Road cross over the center of rt 1, The park will be on your left about 1 mile up the road.
- Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- "Statement of Durand Jones, Deputy Director, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands of the House Committee on Resources, regarding H. RES. 261, recognizing the historic significance of the Aquia Sandstone quarries of Government Island in Stafford County, Virginia, for their contributions to the construction of the Capital of the United States". U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- "Government Island". Stafford County Economic Development Authority. Retrieved 6 November 2010.