The inhabitants of early Fredericksburg enjoyed a cool drink during the hot summer months, just as we do today -- hence the massive excavations referred to as ice houses. These brick-lined, wood-floored structures were generally 15 to 20 feet in depth and 12 to 15 feet in diameter.
Dairy products, meats, and other perishables had to be kept cool, and what better way to do it than to cut the ice from the Rappahannock or a local pond during January, store it in a circular, subterranean cavity, cover it with straw, and preserve it for the warm months ahead.
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.
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