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

Ira Noel Gabrielson

1889–1977

 
 
Ira Noel Gabrielson Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
1. Ira Noel Gabrielson Marker
Inscription.  Oakton resident Dr. Ira Noel Gabrielson was a pioneer conservationist, distinguished field ornithologist, and renowned author. He served as the first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an international leader of conservation projects. Gabrielson was a founder and the first chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and first president of World Wildlife Fund-US. For his life’s work, he was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame in 1978. His land, between Leeds Road and Difficult Run, is a Fairfax County park known as Gabrielson Gardens Park.
 
Erected 2007 by Department of Historic Resources, on April 26. (Marker Number T-46-a.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsHorticulture & Forestry. A significant historical year for this entry is 1978.
 
Location. 38° 53.032′ N, 77° 18.078′ W. Marker is in Oakton, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is at the intersection of Hunter Mill Road (County Route 674) and Lynhaven Place, on the left when traveling north on
Ira Noel Gabrielson Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
2. Ira Noel Gabrielson Marker
Some of the dignitaries at the dedication ceremony linger after the unveiling.
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Hunter Mill Road. It is at the Oakton Library, just outside the sidewalk entrance gate (the gap in the fence between the parking lot and the road). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Oakton VA 22124, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hunter Mill Road (approx. 0.2 miles away); Historic Cemeteries (approx. half a mile away); First Baptist Church of Vienna (approx. 1.6 miles away); Peyton Anderson (approx. 1.8 miles away); Cavalry Engagement near Hunter's Mill (approx. 2 miles away); Blenheim (Willcoxon Farm) (approx. 2 miles away); Historic Blenheim (approx. 2 miles away); Dairy Barn Complex (approx. 2 miles away).
 
More about this marker. Marker is parallel to the road, so it cannot be easily seen from a moving car.
 
Regarding Ira Noel Gabrielson. Gabrielson Gardens Park, mentioned in the marker, is about 2½ miles west. It is unsigned except at its entrance. From the marker, take Hunter Mill road approx 1¾ miles north (left turn from Library parking lot) and turn left on Hunters Valley Road. It is at the end of Hunters Valley Road, at the intersection with Leeds Road at these coordinates: N38° 54.613', W77° 19.009'. To reach the gardens, look for an unmarked footpath on the left flanked by two stone pillars as you walk down the dirt road. You’ll find it before you reach Difficult Run (the creek).

The gardens have returned to nature. Stone retaining walls that once created terraces can be seen leading
The Unveiling, Saturday, April 28, 2008 at 3:02 PM image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
3. The Unveiling, Saturday, April 28, 2008 at 3:02 PM
Carla Ferris, great granddaughter of Dr. Gabrielson, and Dale Hall, current Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pull the lanyards.
up the hillside to Dr. Gabrielson’s house from the pond, whose west and north banks have been taken over by bamboo.

The footpath from the stone pillars meanders through the woods and tunnels through a bamboo stand that opens on the pond. Red and white azaleas line the east bank beside the path and a small cement bench tucked into the azaleas facing the pond makes for a nice stop. Past the pond, the path opens onto a forest floor covered in skunk cabbage. Several 100-foot tall bald cypress trees are in the swampy area near the trail. The oldest ones were planted by Dr. Gabrielson in the 1950s, and their "knees" can be easily seen in the fall and winter months. The path can be muddy and slippery in places.
 
Also see . . .  History on a Stick. “An encounter with a secret pond prompts a woman to create a memorial to a forgotten man.” 2008 article by Patricia Strat in the Washington Post Magazine. (Submitted on June 18, 2008.) 
 
Additional commentary.
1. List of Speakers at the Dedication
Awards for the 2008 Earth Day Art Contest, “Sharing Our Earth” were presented at the dedication. The following persons spoke at the dedication, in the following order. Trish Strat, sponsor of the Gabrielson marker; Jerilyn Polson, branch manager, Oakton Community Library; Patty Reed,
Descendants of Dr. Gabrielson Face the Official Photographer image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
4. Descendants of Dr. Gabrielson Face the Official Photographer
President, Friends of the Oakton Library; Emily Jenkins, reading a letter from Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth; Gerry Connolly, Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; Dale Hall, Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service; Dr. Lee Talbot, former Director-General, World Conservation Union; Craig Tufts, Chief Naturalist, National Wildlife Federation; Su Webb, Vice Chairman, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Board; Margaret Ackerley, Senion Vice President, World Wildlife Fund-US; Mary Olien, Park Manager, Fairfax County Park Authority; Jean Packard, Board Member, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority; and Stephen Nesbitt, grandson of Dr. Gabrielson.
    — Submitted April 28, 2008.
 
Trish Strat, Sponsor of the Gabrielson Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
5. Trish Strat, Sponsor of the Gabrielson Marker
Dr. Gabrielson’s House image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
6. Dr. Gabrielson’s House
This is a private residence. Please do not trespass. Instead, use the park entrance and path that leads to the lower gardens behind the house. The ground drops significantly and immediately behind the house to the pond.
Entrance to Gabrielson Gardens Park image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
7. Entrance to Gabrielson Gardens Park
Sign is at the corner of Hunters Valley Road and Leeds Road. Park your car here without blocking the dirt road or turnout.
Path to Lower Gardens image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
8. Path to Lower Gardens
Footpath to the gardens begins between these two stone pillars.
Garden Pond image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
9. Garden Pond
Garden terraces up to the house are out of frame on the left, as are the azaleas.
Skunk Cabbage Covers the Forest Floor image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, April 26, 2008
10. Skunk Cabbage Covers the Forest Floor
A Bald Cypress and Its "Knees" at Gabrielson Gardens Park image. Click for full size.
By Patricia Strat, September 2007
11. A Bald Cypress and Its "Knees" at Gabrielson Gardens Park
Bald cypress do not naturally occur this far north. Dr. Gabrielson's grandson, Stephen Nesbitt, has confirmed that his grandfather planted bald cypress trees here in the 1950s.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 25, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 26, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 6,048 times since then and 110 times this year. Last updated on April 28, 2008, by Patricia Strat of Oakton, Virginia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on April 26, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   11. submitted on April 28, 2008. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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May. 12, 2021