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Historic Government Island to Become a Park

The new 17-acre park, located in northern Stafford County near Aquia Harbor, will become part of the county's own park system when it opens next year. Government Island is historically significant as the source of Aquia sandstone, used in such structures as the White House, the U.S. Capitol, Aquia Church, Gunston Hall, Kenmore, and Christ Church in Alexandria. In 2002, the House passed a resolution recognizing the historical significance of Aquia sandstone quarries on Government Island.

The island--also known as Wiggington's Island, Brent Island, Aquia Quarry, and Aquia Sandstone Quarry--was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

According to a recent article in the Free Lance-Star, construction will begin on a trail and bridge system to aid public access on January 4, 2010. The island features remnants of a quarry that was operated between colonial times and the early 1800s.  It also has a forested waterfront, wetlands, and much wildlife to view. The quarry area still bears the marks of those early workmen who have not been forgotten in the present day. In 2009, the Senate passed a resolution authorizing a plaque commemorating the role of enslaved African-Americans in the construction of the Capitol, including their work at the Aquia Creek sandstone quarry.

Can't wait to enjoy the new park? Get ready for your visit by reading more about Government Island online and in the Library:

Aquia Quarry on Government Island (Reference at Porter Library)

Birthstone of the White House and Capitol by Jane Hollenbeck Conner (Available to check out)

Geologic Map of the Stafford Quandrangle

The Sandstone Quarries at Aquia Creek

"Temple of Liberty:" Building a Capitol for a New Nation

Image of Kenmore's eastern portico, featuring columns of Aquia sandstone, from the Library of Congress' Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS VA, 89-FRED, 1-10)