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Government Island, Stafford

#2 of 6 in Things to do in Stafford
Park · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
The Public Quarry at Government Island in Stafford County, Virginia is the principal source of Aquia Creek sandstone, a building stone used in many of the early government buildings in Washington, D.C., including the U.S. Capitol and the White House. A quarry was established just off the Potomac River at Wigginton's Island on Aquia Creek by George Brent after 1694, providing stone for tombstones and to houses and churches in northern Virginia, including Gunston Hall, Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, Mount Airy in Richmond County, Virginia, and Aquia Church, as well as steps and walkways at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Washington selected Aquia sandstone as the primary material for use in Washington's government buildings. Acting on the government's behalf, the Wigginton's Island quarry was purchased by Pierre Charles L'Enfant in 1791, becoming known afterward as Government Island.
Use of the stone declined as its susceptibility to weathering was observed, and the quarry became worked out and derelict after the U.S. Civil War. The property was sold by the U.S. Government in 1963.
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168 reviews
  • This island was preserved by a local historian. Rock from the quarry was used in construction of the historic buildings in DC. You can see the marks in the rock from where slaves and masons...  more »
  • We explored this little gem with my daughter who recently moved to the area. Nice level walk with asphalt and wooden walkways. Even in the ground was relatively smooth. I saw families with strollers.....  more »
  • Good hiking for anyone who is starting out. Short, but with just enough interesting things to see and a few terrain changes to introduce a new hiker to nature walking. For a mid-level and up hiker, it is just a nice short walk. If you have a dog, this place is great for a walk! However, please keep an eye out for snakes as they can be fairly common in the warmer times. Bring bug repellent if you don't like bugs because this place has ALL the mosquitoes.
  • Its a great place to go walking and disconnect from the world for a little while. Lots of wild life like fish, birds and the occasional turtle. Watch out for snakes but all the ones I came across were non-venomous water snakes. Give them space and they won't bother you :)

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