History

Photo Credit: Belmont Bay

As modern as the conveniences of Belmont Bay will be, the site on which it is built has a heritage of historical significance. Five hundred years ago Belmont Bay was the chosen home of Native Americans. Spanish explorers travelled through this area in the late 1560’s and appreciated it for the riches of the water and soil. Even as Virginia grew as a colony, then into a state… this bit of river and bank remained a cherished parcel of earth. You are not the first to experience the beauty of Belmont Bay; you are simply the latest to have made the discovery.

Stand on the dock of the present day marina and downriver you'll see Dogg's Island, a spit of land whose name is derived from the first known inhabitants of the area, the Dogue Indians. The Dogue considered this area sacred, and it's no wonder there are legends of conflicts with the Spanish who were establishing missions. In 1608 John Smith's party traveled up the Potomac and spent time scouting the Occoquan Creek. Captain Nathaniel Powell, a companion of Smith's, is credited with penning the very first map of the area.

Recognizing its natural beauty, location and navigable waters, Thomas Burbage purchased the rights to the 3,000 acres between Neabsco and the Occoquan River, setting aside 400 acres which eventually became the Fish and Wildlife refuge. Belmont Bay is part of that prime land that Burbage treasured over 400 years ago. 

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

 

Photo Credit: Gunston Hall Library and Archives

Over the years the land that Burbage governed would be known by many names and for many uses. As the confluence of the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers, the land took on the title of Deep Hole Plantation. In 1717, George Mason II purchased 534 acres on the south side of the Occoquan. The Mason family owned and leased various tracts of the land – mostly as farmlands – during the 1800's.

Old Indian trails formed the first travel ways. One in particular, known as Potomac Path, passed through both the Deep Hole Plantation and the Occoquan Plantation to reach the bank of the Occoquan River. As the early postal service developed the roadway between Fredericksburg and Alexandria that trail became "The King's Highway" because it carried the King's mail.

As the region grew the Mason family made a business of ferrying travelers across the Occoquan to Colchester, which is now part of Fairfax County. The ferry improved commerce, communication, and afforded transportation to travelers, as well as to colonial soldiers and their horses. There is even an account of George Washington's coach tumbling into the river when a horse shied and overturned the ferry. Fortunately the horses were able to swim and dragged the coach and its important occupant ashore.

In 1731, the first Prince William County Courthouse was built next to the Mason ferry house on the southern bank of the Occoquan River.  Prince William County was much larger then and encompassed the present day counties of Prince William, Fauquier, Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington, and the City of Alexandria. As befitting a government building serving such a large area, the courthouse was complete with a courtroom, prison, pillory, and stocks.

It is our great privilege to continue the development of a property so rich in history. We invite you to be a part of this land's next chapter, and to enjoy the discovery of all that Belmont Bay has to offer.

Directions

Facebook

Twitter

Belmont Bay is a proud member of
the Occoquan River Communities

Copyright © 2017 BelmontBay all rights reserved