Town of Occoquan, VA

Town of Occoquan Historical Marker, Virginia

The Town of Occoquan is a suburb of Washington, DC, located in Prince William County, Virginia. The name of the town of derived from the Algonquian Doeg Native American’s word for “at the end of the water”. Long before Europeans settled the Americas, the area was used by indigenous people, using the river for transportation and trade.

During the 1600s, Captain John Smith sailed alone the river, exploring the area. By 1734, the town had public warehouses for tobacco, and by 1749, iron furnaces were put in place along the river by Charles Ewell and John Ballendine. The first automated grist mill in the nation (Merchant’s Mill) operated in the area from 1759 to 1924 when it was destroyed by a fire.

In 1804, Town of Occoquan was formally established – located on the 31 acres that was owned by Nathaniel Ellicott, Luke Wheeler and James Campbell. It became an industrial town with the mills, forges, mercantile shops and shipping of railroad ties. During the 1890s, excursion boats from DC would bring tourists to admire the natural beauty of the area. The town, however, had begun to decline as an industrial town by the mid-19th century. Presently, the Occoquan is known as a destination for ghost walks, antiques, art, dining and more.

Bridge over Occoquan River, Virginia
Bridge over Occoquan River

Historical Marker Inscription

Nathaniel Ellicott formally established the town in 1804. Bringing to fruition industrial and commercial developments. Begun ‘at or near the falls of Occoquan’ by John Ballendine c. 1750 the estuary of the Occoquan has attracted the attention of travelers since the time of John Smith. Adjacent lands were patented by the 1850s; copper was being shipped from ‘King’ Carter’s Landing, and tobacco from a publish warehouse by the 1780s.

Prince William County Historical Commission – 1978

Location

203 Washington Street, Occoquan, VA 22125, US

38° 40′ 60.000″ N, 77° 15′ 34.518″ W