Personal stories here.
When Explorer John Smith reached what we now know as Virginia in May of 1607, Algonquin tribes of the Dogue, Anacostin and remnants of the Piscataway inhabited the area we now know as Fairfax County. Along the Potomac Tidewater areas, the Indians were fishermen and tobacco and corn growers. They later fell under the more powerful tribes to the north which included the Iroquois Confederation. The Iroquois considered the virgin, inland forests as their historic hunting preserve and were able to prevent inland migration of the English for almost a century after John Smith’s time. Only after the French and Indian War, did the American Indians give way to the inland desires of the European settlers.
The original "Northern Neck of Virginia" was granted in 1661 by Charles II of England to Lord Hopton and others. The Northern Neck included all land lying within the boundaries of the headwaters of the rivers Tappahannock (alias Rappahannock) and Quiriough (alias Potomac). This vast land holding was sold to Lord Culpeper in 1683. The elder Thomas 5th-Lord Fairfax, married the only daughter of Lord Culpeper. These lands which were about 6,000,000 acres descended to their son - Lord Thomas Fairfax, Sixth Baron of Cambridge.
Fairfax County was named for Thomas Sixth Lord Fairfax. Just before his death, he granted his land holdings to his tenants. Fairfax County was formed from Prince William County in 1742. It extended from the Potomac and Occoquan rivers westward to the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1757, the westward part of the county was cut to establish Loudon County. The area remained a rural society comprised of mostly of planters until 1800 when part of the county (Arlington and Alexandria County) was ceded United States as part of the District of Columbia for the seat of our Federal Government. In 1846 it was retroceded to Virginia, and organized as a county. Not long after it was ceded back to Virginia in 1846, Alexandria became an independent city and Arlington County became a separate, county entity.
The early settlers grew tobacco as did the American Indians before them. Wooden hogsheads filled with tobacco were rolled and pushed by men, horses or oxen on "rolling roads" from inland plantations to the Potomac River. When tobacco lost its value, more diversified crops were farmed, and the area remained largely rural until the 1950s. The county was little more than an agricultural neighbor to the District and even declined in population from 1790 to 1840 due in part to the expansion into the Ohio Valley. In 1870, the county’s population had a mere population of 13,000.
In 1854 soon after the Orange and Alexandria Railroad was completed, the RR Station at the Backlick Road crossing was named “Springfield” due to the numerous springs in the area of the station. The train at least provided direct access to Alexandria and the District of Columbia. The first school opened in 1911 for elementary and the first year of high school. Subsequent high school education relied upon the Springfield area students riding the train into Alexandria. Springfield and much of Fairfax County remained a rural, agricultural economy until about 1915.
In 1940, the population of Fairfax County had grown to about 41,000. Virginia’s population was a mere 2.7 million of which 1.7 million lived in rural areas and just less than 1.0 million lived in urban communities. Alexandria at that time had a total population of 33,500. The County’s population grew to 99,000 in 1950 and to 249,000 in 1960.
During and after WWII there was not enough housing for government workers and military personnel. Mobile home parks were placed wherever space permitted. But Springfield still had less than 500 residents even into the 1950's, but had been earmarked for tract housing. Subsequent high school education development under the Montgomery GI to support the Pentagon, military and government needs for affordable family housing. Springfield was developed in the late 1950’s and throughout the 60’s.
Fairfax County’s population explosion was now well under way. In the 50’s, the county’s school population grew by 238%. County’s population grew to 454,000 in 1970; and about 600,000 in 1980. Now it is well over 1.0 million.
It must have been quite a shock when in 1951 the Federal government condemned 4520 acres in/around Burke for the purpose of building a new airport. It had been determined that Washington National Airport could not be expanded, and Friendship Airport (now BWI) was considered too far away to meet the needs of the Washington metropolitan area. Other locations had been considered, but Burke was the first choice (Chantilly the second). Citizens formed an opposition and lobbied members of Congress. They gained local support very quickly and eventually caused President Eisenhower’s staff to select Chantilly rather than Burke.
That land that had been taken by the government was offered back to some of the former owners, but most of them had relocated and were not interested or couldn't afford it. Almost 900 acres were given by the Federal government to the Fairfax County Park Authority, resulting in the building of Burke Lake Park. Imagine how different our area would be if Dulles Airport had been built in Burke rather than in Chantilly.
Another embarrassment during Beltway construction in early 1964 happened during excavation of the roadway near the Wilson Bridge. Caskets from the adjacent cemetery began to appear in the construction site. The excavator had not breached the cemetery property but, for the previous 150 years, the perpetually wet soil had allowed buried remains to "float" through the soil to new locations. It took awhile to get everyone "home". Henry Butler, Rolling Road
Richmarr Construction Corporation built our village in the late 1960’s. The 5 models in our Village were on display at King’s Park and ranged in price from at/about $17, 000 to $27,000.
Ed Tarlosky (Edmonton Court) reported that Hurricane Isabel (2003) took out a lot of trees that original homeowners were allowed to tag before home construction. Ed admits that without property line markings, he may have tagged trees in your yard as well. He also said that even in the late 1960’s, Rolling Road was still a dirt road and original buyers had to park near the intersection of Bellamy and Greeley and walk into the development.
Larry Mark (Vancouver Road) reported that when he and his family moved in, Old Keene Mill Road was a two-lane undivided highway. The closest grocery store was the Giant in the Springfield Plaza. At the intersection of Old Keene Mill & Rolling Road was the 7-11 and a Texaco. If you headed north on Rolling Road, there was a one-lane bridge over the railroad just before you get to Kings Park.
Soon after people moved into their new West Springfield Village homes, our Civic Association was founded - complete with a set of Covenants that made membership mandatory and gave the Association the power to handle daily business and resolve problems and neighborly disputes.
Village History or Folklore? - Though there are many "Springfield’s"; our Springfield truly deserves its name. The original train stop was named appropriately for the many streams or springs in around that sight, but we have or had over 40 underground streams flowing throughout our Springfield area. Springfield area was originally known for its timber and tobacco production. Since heavily laden wagons sunk into the mud, tobacco was loaded into large, round barrels (hogshead) and they were “rolled” along the “rolling roads” to Potomac River docks.
Or was our Rolling Road named for the “Rolling Hills” through which the rolling roads meandered from farms to ports in Alexandria and elsewhere along the Potomac?
When tobacco gave way to wheat, corn and other cultivated crops, grist mills sprung up through out the area. One, known as the John Keene Mill and located near the intersection of Huntsman and Old "Keene Mill" Road.
During the 20th century, our area became famous for its dairy and hog farms. Farmers used a certain road to move their cattle to and from pasture or markets. Cattle love salt and they used a clever way of placing salt in front of the cattle to move them from pastures back to their farms. The cattle would stop to lick the salt and were enticed to follow the farmer as he moved it back closer each time to his farm. The area along Backlick Road had natural salt licks that attracted deer and the Indians had hunted that area well before the farmers used their tricks. None-the-less, the road is appropriately named "Backlick Road". Another interesting road is Hooes (pronounced as “hose”) which was named for John Hooes who owned and operated a ferry on the Occoquan River. He wanted the road built to his ferry site to increase his profits.
It has been told that the brand name Smithfield received most of its pork from the hog farms in area now known as Springfield.
Some place names have historical significance. During the colonial period the various geographical names often related to particular people, places, and events. For example, Telegraph Road may be obtained its name because it was the road along which the telegraph lines were run in the mid 1800's. Names like Old Keene Mill road, Railroad Street, Gunston Road, and Old Colchester Road remind us that there is often a bit of history or an interesting story tucked away quietly in a place name.
One of the old road names in this area is Rolling Road. During colonial times tobacco was the c chief cash crop for many parts of Virginia. It was also an export crop that was sent to other parts of the world. Putting the tobacco on a barge and sending it down a navigable creek or river was the most efficient method of getting the harvested crop to the port from which it would be shipped. This method of transportation was not possible for many inland growers, however, and they often packed their tobacco in large barrels and let oxen pull the barrel to the port. In this way, the tobacco was rolled along a rolling road to the port. The barrel was called a hogshead and probably measured about four feet in length and two and a half feet in diameter. Fully packed it weighted almost half a ton. The mechanics of hitching the hogshead to the oxen was interesting.
A shaft was driven through the round ends and hooked to a wooden from which was hitched to the oxen. A road that was to the colonists what I-95 is to present day citizens was the Potomac Path. Later it was called King's Highway, a designation which marked roads used to carry the mail. The Potomac Path was organically an Indian Trail extending from the Potomac River in Northern Virginia to the Rappahannock near Fredericksburg. A road to the west of the Potomac Creek was known as the "back road" in earlier days. It was renamed with changing history and is now called Telegraph Road.
The road into present-day Fairfax County from the Occoquan ferry was known as Ox Road or Middle Road. In 1729 Robert "King" Carter laid out this road to carry copper from the Frying Pan Copper Mine to the Occoquan River. The mine proved to be a mistake, but it produced a road which has been in use to the present day.