“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Stafford in Stafford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Government Island

Government Island Orientation

Government Island Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 2, 2020
1. Government Island Marker
Welcome to Government Island. This 17-acre historic site is an early American quarry originally named Brent’s Island or Wiggington’s Island. As early as 1694, stone was quarried from this site for use as architectural trim in Colonial America. The quarry’s fine-grained sandstone was called Aquia (ah qui’ ah) stone, due to its location along the Aquia Creek, or freestone, for its ability to be freely carved without splitting. The stone was a desirable building material for its composition as well as its beautiful white color.

In 1791, the federal government purchased Brent’s Island for the purpose of construction the President’s House (later referred to as the White House) and the United States Capitol. Extensive quantities of freestone were extracted from this site from 1791 through the 1820s.

As you tour Government Island, you will learn about the quarry workers, their quarrying methods, and the area’s Native American presence.

The picks and mauls are silent now at Government Island.
Gone are the muscled laborers who quarried the rock.
Gone, too, are the masted ships that carried it north.
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Government Island is quiet now
    Overgrown with oaks and maples and sticker bushes.
Only the silent stones say that
    This was once the nation’s most famous quarry.

- Jim Hall, Journalist, July 6, 1992; The Free Lance-Star

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

Connecting People and Places.
The trail on Government Island, along with the Aquia Landing Park and Belmont-Ferry Farm Trail, is a segment of the Potomac heritage National Scenic Trail.

An enterprise of many partners, the evolving Trail network celebrates the heritage of the Potomac and upper Ohio River basins. Between the Alleghenies of Western Pennsylvania and valleys to the piedmont and coastal plain, and offers many opportunities to explore historic sites, natural areas, and communities.

For more information, visit

Great Allegheny Passage Between Cumberland, Maryland, and the Forks of the Ohio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 150 miles of the Great Allegheny Passage bridges the Eastern Continental Divide, providing opportunities for travel by foot, bicycle, and, in some places, by horse and cross-country skiis. The trail system, of which approximately 130 miles are open, features scenic views, small towns, state and local parks, numerous outdoor recreational
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail side of the marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 2, 2020
2. Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail side of the marker
opportunities, access to rivers and streams, and interpretive exhibits.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
This 70-mile trail climbs out of the Youghiogheny River valley at Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, and follows Laurel Ridge through the state park and other public lands from the Youghiogheny River to the Conemaugh River near Johnstown. Six parking areas provide starting points. Eight overnight shelters and tent-camping areas are located along the trail. Biking is prohibited.

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park extends 184.5 miles along the Potomac River between Georgetown in Washington, D.C., and Cumberland, Maryland. Historical highlights along the towpath include locks, lockkeepers' houses, and aqueducts, and other remains of the 1828-1924 canal. Recreational opportunities abound for hikers, biker, boaters, anglers, campers, bird-watchers and wildflower enthusiasts.

Potomac Heritage Trail
Between Theodore Roosevelt Island and the American Legion Bridge, this 10-mile hiking path within George Washington Memorial Parkway passes steep, rocky hillsides and crosses forested streams and many periods of history.

Mount Vernon Trail
This 18.5-mile walking-biking trail parallels the
Island Trail Overview side of the marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 2, 2020
3. Island Trail Overview side of the marker
Potomac River and the George Washington Memorial Parkway between Theodore Roosevelt Island and Mount Vernon. The trail provides views of the Washington, D.C., skyline and opportunities to visit national memorials along the Virginia waterfront, historic Alexandria, wetlands, and the home of the first U.S. President.

Prince Georges County Potomac Heritage Trail
This 20-mile route features a broad range of historic places, views of the Potomac River, and connections to local and national parks and other recreational facilities.
Erected 2010 by Tourism and Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, Stafford County, Va.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureColonial EraWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 6, 1901.
Location. 38° 26.821′ N, 77° 23.283′ W. Marker is in Stafford, Virginia, in Stafford County. Marker can be reached from Coal Landing Road (County Road 631). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Stafford VA 22554, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Government Island (here, next to this marker); Site Selection / Architectural Features
Government Island Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 2, 2020
4. Government Island Marker
(approx. 0.4 miles away); Island Ownership (approx. 0.4 miles away); Native American Presence (approx. half a mile away); Quarrying the Stone (approx. half a mile away); Transporting the Stone (approx. half a mile away); Mary Kittamaquund (approx. 0.8 miles away); Peyton’s Ordinary (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Stafford.
Government Island Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., November 27, 2010
5. Government Island Marker
Credits. This page was last revised on May 3, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 8, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,158 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 3, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   5. submitted on January 8, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.

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Apr. 18, 2024