Woodbridge Travel Blog› entry 74 of 108 › view all entries
Susan had heard on the radio about an historical exhibit on the Underground Railroad that would take place at Leesylvania State Park over the weekend. That sounded like a made-for-Saturday mini-road trip outing. (The "Underground Railroad" was a loose system of safe houses and couriers that led escaping slaves from the Southern states to Canada, where they could not be repatriated.)
Leesylvania State Park is located on the far side of Woodbridge, in neighboring Prince William County. It's a new park that opened in 1992. We had not been there before and, reading in advance about the history of the area, we knew it was a location we wanted to visit.
And so, we followed Richmond Highway (U.S. Highway 1) down through Lorton, across the Occoquan River into Prince William County, and on down through Woodbridge, VA. Route 1 through Woodbridge is a crazy quilt of strip shopping centers, fast food, ethnic food (especially pupuserías), billboards, car dealerships, and auto care shops. It has its own vibrancy. Everything is in constant motion! The surroundings become more settled and suburban around Neabsco Creek.
The park entrance road loads across the length of the park to Powell's Creek and then doubles back to the Visitor Center and the recreation areas along the Potomac River. (It's big with boaters on the Potomac and there is a major boat launching area.) The Visitor Center was our initial focus. Inside, there was a wing of museum displays on the Leesylvania area. The exhibits traced the story of the indigenous peoples, English contact in the 16th century, the coming of the Lee family and the Leesylvania Plantation, the Civil War, and the period following the Civil War. Very interesting indeed. More local history I had not known about. OK, now where was that Underground Railroad exhibit? It was in the adjacent wing, typically used for park educational programs.
After our tour through the Visitor Center exhibits, it was time to explore more of the park. Susan and I headed aong the Potomac Trail towards Freestone Point. Saturday was very sunny and temperatures were warming up a bit! The path runs along the Potomac River shoreline.
Susan and I then headed up to beginning of the Lee's Woods historical trail that goes up to the Freestone Point sandstone bluffs and then traces through the forest to the sites of the Lee and the later Fairfax plantation homes. We went up on the bluff to see the extant Civil War eathworks. (Following the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, the Confederates established four gun empalcements on the bluff to try to blockade ships from reaching Washington, DC.) The 1861 earthworks are plainly visible and the site does offer a commanding view up and down the river.
We decided to save the hike to see the plantation home sites and family cemetery for another day, maybe in the spring. We headed back to Woodbridge for an early barbeque dinner at Dixie Bones.