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Prince William County, VA
Created in 1730, Prince William County is home to Virginia’s oldest town—Dumfries. Dumfries was chartered in 1749 and began as a shipping port which rivaled Boston and New York. Three towns within the county were established before the Civil War. They are Dumfries, Haymarket, and Occoquan. Each of these towns offer visitors a unique look into the past.
The major contributor to Prince William County’s early success in Colonial times was the Potomac Path, also known as the King’s Highway. This major transportation route passed through the county and was a major link between northern and southern counties. U.S. Route 1 follows this early route fairly closely and gives travelers a chance to experience history first hand.
Prince William County was the site of the First and Second Battles of Manassas—two of the most important battles of the Civil War. Today, the Manassas National Battlefield Park marks the site of these battles.
Manassas National Battlefield Park
—The park was established in May of 1940 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in October of 1966 to commemorate the First and Second Battles of Manassas, also know as the First and Second Battles of Bull Run. These battles occurred during 1861 and 1862 respectively and were major conflicts of the Civil War. The park has two visitor centers, the Henry Hill Visitor Center and the Stuart’s Hill Visitor Center, each focusing on one of the battles. There is a one-mile, self-guided walking tour for the First Battle of Manassas and a thirteen-mile, self-guided driving tour for the Second Battle of Manassas available at the park.
U.S. Marine Corps Air-Ground Museum
—This museum focuses on the Marine Corps’ approach to combat operations which emphasizes the use of both air and ground tactics and equipment. Exhibits range from aircraft to tanks, artillery to specialized equipment, and span the history of the Corps from the Spanish-American War through Operation Desert Storm.
Quantico National Cemetery
—Quantico National Cemetery is composed of 725 wooded acres with space for more than 350,000 national heroes to be laid to rest and was officially dedicated in 1983. To date, only about 21,000 individuals have found their final resting place here, but is still a popular draw for those wishing to pay their respects, especially on national holidays when the Memorial Pathway is lined with hundreds of flags.
—The Weems-Botts Museum is a small but professionally directed museum that focuses on the history of Dumfries, Virginia’s oldest chartered town. The museum also focuses on Mason Locke Weems and Benjamin Botts—two of Dumfries most notable historic figures. Weems was George Washington’s biographer and creator of the “cherry tree myth.” Botts, an attorney, is best known for successfully defending Aaron Burr during his treason and conspiracy trial.