Waterloo, Fauquier County, Virginia
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The village has existed since at least 1749 when the decision was made to build a road from Warrenton (about 8 miles east) to serve the growing number of farms along the river. With Fauquier County on the north side and Culpeper County on the south side, Waterloo is surrounded by relatively flat tracts of arable land and the river offers water power for mills.
In 1829, construction began on a canal to eventually connect Waterloo with Fredericksburg, about 58 miles to the southeast. Finished in 1849, the canal included 44 locks and 20 dams, with 14 miles of dug canal. Commercial activities in Waterloo began to thrive at the time of the canal. Eventually there was a sawmill, a clothing mill, a blacksmith, and a plan for a group of shops and factories on the Fauquier side to serve the community and the canal. When the Orange and Alexandria Railroad commenced operation in 1852, traffic on the canal went into rapid decline, and venture ceased to operate in 1853.
During the Civil War, the town of Waterloo was occupied by both the North and the South on their respective sides of the river. In 1861, CSA General Stonewall Jackson defeated USA General Shields in an early skirmish of the war in Virginia; Shields crossed the Waterloo Bridge from Culpeper to Fauquier on his retreat back to Washington. Starting at Waterloo on August 22, 1862, General J. E. B. Stuart's army rode around the army of USA General Pope. Stuart's force captured Pope's headquarters wagons and destroyed Union supplies and army material, leading up to the second battle of Manassas. Eventually, all but a couple of buildings in Waterloo were destroyed or dismantled by the warring factions. See also "Battle of Rappahannock Station I".
The current Waterloo Bridge was constructed in 1919 by the Virginia Bridge and Iron Company. A one lane, steel bridge, it is said to be the second oldest such bridge in Virginia. The bridge, costing $7,050, was paid for by the counties of Fauquier, Culpeper, and Rappahannock as a means for local farmers and merchants to deliver goods to market. U.S. Route 211 was routed across the bridge from 1926 until about 1930.
Today, all that remains of the once busy nexus of commerce is a one lane bridge, a home built around 1830 by John Spillman Armstrong; and the Waterloo Post Office (now a private residence) built on the Culpeper side in 1870 by Armstrong under contract to the U.S. Post Office. Local residents believe the post office was built by the U.S. government as a way of re-establishing its authority following the Civil War.