Burke in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Wood Choppers and Teamsters
During the Civil War, African American laborers chopped wood and conveyed it to Burke’s Station, a major Federal timber transportation station located here on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. To supply the Union army and engineers with timber for railroad ties, bridge trusses, stockades, and firewood, wood choppers cut down thousands of acres of woodland along the railroad in Fairfax County. The wood was then transported by rail to Alexandria.
In 1863, the U.S. Military Construction Corps built an additional siding here to facilitate the loading of wood onto railroad cars. Wood choppers moved up to 1,000 cords of lumber a month in the Burke area alone. Army teamsters hauled the wood here in mule-drawn wagons. There were as many as 100 wagons in the wagon master’s brigade at Burke’s Station. Many of the wood choppers and teamsters were escaped slaves called “contrabands” who had fled to Alexandria. Because they risked capture and reenslavement by working here outside Union lines, Federal cavalry and infantry camped nearby to protect both the contrabands and the wood stockpiles.
On October 28, 1863, Confederate guerillas
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Railroads & Streetcars • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1863.
Location. 38° 47.584′ N, 77° 16.343′ W. Marker is in Burke, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from Old Burke Lake Road south of Burke Road (Virginia Route 652), on the right when traveling south. Marker is located near the front entrance of the Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 9501 Old Burke Lake Rd, Burke VA 22015, 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 Burke's Station (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Burke Station (about 400 feet away); Copperthite Racetrack (approx. ¼ mile away); Post Office (approx. Ice House (approx. half a mile away); The Silas Burke House (approx. half a mile away); Windmill (approx. half a mile away); Wood Shed (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Burke.
Regarding Burke's Station. The marker displays four photos captioned African American Teamster hauling wood in Virginia Courtesy Library of Congress, Aerial photo, 1937, showing original location of railroad through Burke (red line); tracks were moved north ca. 1901Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wood chopper huts on Orange & Alexandria Railroad Courtesy National Archives & Records Administration and Railroad track, including the track at Burke's Station, was periodically destroyed and African Americans were employed to repair the track- Library of Congress. The marker also displays a map of the area indicating the location of the marker with a red You Are Here star.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 7, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 11, 2015. This page has been viewed 1,185 times since then and 243 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 13, 2015. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.