The Nation's River

The Nation's River (HM2756)

Location: Woodbridge, VA 22191 Prince William County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 39.176', W 77° 13.747'

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Belmont Bay

The Potomac River, often referred to as the "Nation's River", has been significant in the Country's history. Colonists traveled on the river and shipped tobacco, timber and grains from its ports. The Potomac River is still a vital resource. Shoreline nature preserves protect wildlife, while river-based commercial and recreational activities still support the local economy.

An abundance of fish

In May, 1608 John Smith and a small party left Jamestown to explore the Potomac River including sections of the Occoquan Creek shoreline before you. His maps and journal provided later colonists with information about this wilderness.

A few beavers, otters, bears, martins, and minks we found, and in diverse places that an abundance of fish, lying so thick with their heads above the water as for want of nets we attempted to catch them with a frying pan but we found it a bad instrument to catch fish with. Neither more better fish, more plenty, nor more variety for small fish, had any of us ever seen in one place so swimming in the water, but they are not to be caught with a frying pan.

Quotation: John Smith described the abundance of creatures living in the Potomac River in June, 1608.
From The Journal of Captain John Smith, John M. Thompson, editor

National Geographic Society, 2007

River Plantations

When this area was settled in the 1600s, lands along the Potomac River and its tributaries were the most desirable. Planters needed to access these waterways to import and export goods and produce. During the early 18th century, Colchester and Dumfries emerged as local ports.

Belmont Center is built on land once contained within the Burbage Dividend. This large tract on the Occoquan Creek's southern shore was granted to Thomas Burbage in 1653. In 1738, John Tayloe consolidated much of the Burbage Dividend tract with adjacent land, calling his tract Deep Hole Plantation due to its navigable shoreline.

In 1717, George Mason II acquired the land on which you stand and Mason's Neck. He named this tract Occoquan Plantation.

His grandson, great American patriot, George Mason IV, lived and worked at Gunston Hall Plantation, which is now a museum.

Free and enslaved African Americans provided most labor for commercial fishing during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Left: This beast swims in the Potowmack River on John Smith's 1612 map of Virginia, drawn by William Hole.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Many plantations were located along the Potomac River. The land on which Belmont Center is built is circled in red. The Mason's Gunston Hall is built on Dogue's Neck.
Map adapted from Gunston Hall: Return to Splendor (1991).
Courtesy of Gunston Hall Plantation, Mason Neck, Virginia
HM NumberHM2756
Placed ByPrince William County
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, April 24th, 2018 at 10:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 306026 N 4280620
Decimal Degrees38.65293333, -77.22911667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 39.176', W 77° 13.747'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 39' 10.56" N, 77° 13' 44.82" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)703
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 401 Belmont Bay Dr, Woodbridge VA 22191, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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