Markers point out history of Occoquan

OCCOQUAN — Many know that the town of Occoquan is historic.

Fewer people, however, probably could pinpoint specific sites and explain why they are.

Occoquan officials took steps last week to make that information more readily available to the public when they erected six historic markers throughout the town.

“Occoquan is a historic town but we haven’t had anything in the town [explaining that history] except for one or two markers,” said Occoquan Councilman Leo Smith.

By reading the new markers, “people will know what we are all about,” Smith said.

Smith, along with several other town officials, gathered Thursday morning to watch the signs being installed.

“I think this is very important,” said Councilman Joao Paul “J.P.” Cunha. “This brings out the historic value of the town. It will educate people.”

The Occoquan Town Council has been working on the marker projects for the better part of a year, budgeting $10,000 for them.

“We did a lot of research,” Cunha said. “We wanted to make sure the signs would be correct.”

The town hired Harold L. Reem as its historic preservation consultant to oversee the project, check the historic information and develop the wording for the signs.

The six signs commemorate the following:

the 1804 plat of the town;

the site of the 1804 Boundary Stony, which was used as a starting point for a survey of the town’s boundaries;

the former site of the Occoquan Wharves;

Mill Street as its commercial center;

the 1925 Methodist church, which is now Occoquan Town Hall;

and the site of Ellicott’s Mill, built around 1755.

Another eight markers are planned. The town will again have to budget the money for them next year.

“We have done this ourselves,” said Mayor Patricia Conway. “The town has always been willing to pay its own way. However, anyone wanting to contribute would certainly be welcome.”

Once all 14 markers are in place, the town will offer a walking tour guided by the markers. The brochure has already been developed and will be available at the Prince William County Tourist Information Center within the town.

The historic markers project is just one of many under way in the town to enhance it and make it attractive and accessible to visitors.

The Mill Street Project, which includes road improvements, an overlook of the Occoquan River and the capability to use a road turnaround location as an amphitheater, should get started later this year.

The Port of Occoquan project, which includes improving dock access for recreational boaters, will soon follow.

“It’s all part of making Occoquan a more pleasant place to visit,” Cunha said.

Staff writer Aileen Streng can be reached at (703) 878-8010.

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