Lorton in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Evolution of a Landscape – Plantation, Prison, Park
Preserved Spaces – Protecting and Inﬂuencing Communities
It may be difficult to imagine all of the events, large and small, that took place on the surrounding landscape, but Laurel Hill Park has been influenced by thousands of years of human history. The earliest inhabitants of this area were Native Americans who crafted stone tools out of local quartz and hunted, fished, and gathered edible plants for food. European settlement of the area began in the mid-1700s. After the Revolutionary War, Major William Lindsay built a plantation between Giles Run and Pohick Creek. His plantation, named Laurel Hill, was cultivated by enslaved African Americans for nearly forty years.
In the early part of the 20th century, several hunderd acres of land were purchased for the District of Columbia Workhouse. This Progressive-era workhouse and reformatory was designed to “rehabilitate and reform prisoners through fresh air, good food and honest work.” Early prisoners at the Occoquan Workhouse included a number of suffragist arrested in 1917 for picketing the White House in support of the right of women to vote. The ensuing decades saw the transition of the workhouse and reformatory to a walled penitentiary. During the Cold War, the site was chosen for the first and largest NIKE missile installation.
On July 15, 2002, Fairfax County received title to portions of the former D.C. Correctional Facility at Lorton. This transfer was made possible through the Lorton Technical Corrections Act, passed by Congress in October 1998, which required the county to develop a Reuse Plan that would “maximize use of land for open space, park land, or recreation.” Although this site has been referred to as “Lorton” for most of the 20th century, this site is now referred to as “Laurel Hill” in commemoration of the Lindsay family home and plantation.
Protecting and preserving this park offers future generations access to these unique cultuarl and natural resources; its dedication is one more event in Laurel Hillís long history.
The landscape of Laurel Hill Park has been greatly influenced by its plant, animal, and human inhabitants over thousands of years. The first inhabitants of the region were Native Americans who hunted for game, fished, and gathered abundant plant resources beginning more than ten thousand years ago. Just after the United States won its independence,
Though urban sprawl surrounds the 1200-acre Laurel Hill Park, a rich diveristy of plant and animal species has persisted over time and can be viewed by park visitors. Tucked safely within the parkís boundaries are a variety of habitants including old field thickets, meadows, the Giles Run stream and the steep-sided riparian forest that surrounds it. Plant and animal species have once again become the primary inhabitants, reclaiming land that has been modified through human occupation and cultivation.
Animals that call Laurel Hill home include wild turkey, gray and flying squirrels, mice, bats, snakes, fox, coyotes, and a wide variety of songbirds. Among the plant species you might encounter here are chestnut oak, hickory, maple, beech, hornbeam, viburnum, blackberry, goldenrods, bottlebrush grass, and wild rye. The presence of these habitats and the species that inhabit them allows the visitor to imagine what the landscape might have looked like in the past and enjoy the knowlede that it will continue to be preserved as parkland in the future.
Erected 2007 by Fairfax County Park Authority.
Location. 38° 42.539′ N, 77° 14.328′ W. Marker is in Lorton, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from Lorton Road. Click for map. At Giles Run Meadow, just across the parking lot from the old Lorton Workhouse Reformatory and Penitentiary. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8400 Lorton Rd, Lorton VA 22079, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lorton Nike Missile Site (approx. ĺ mile away); Occoquan Workhouse (approx. 1.1 miles away); a different marker also named Occoquan Workhouse (approx. 1.2 miles away); Lorton Station (approx. 1.4 miles away); Joseph W. Jordan (approx. 1.7 miles away); Noman Monroe Cole, Jr. (approx. 1.7 miles away); Women Suffrage Prisoners at Occoquan Workhouse (approx. 2 miles away); The Beehive Brick Kiln (approx. 2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Lorton.
Categories. • 20th Century • Colonial Era • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,270 times since then and 126 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.