Potomac News Online | Prince William is home to four unique towns

Each of Prince William County’s four small towns has a rich history, most dating back hundreds of years. Each town has its own government, elected officials and services. Town residents pay town taxes as well as county taxes. The towns are vibrant and working hard to ensure they will continue to have bright futures.


Dumfries, with its nearly 5,000 residents packed into 1.6 square miles, has the largest population of the four towns. It also is Virginia’s oldest continuously chartered town.

In 1749, the town assumed the name of a coastal town in Scotland from which one of the Virginia locality’s prominent merchants hailed.

In the 1700s, the town was a popular port for ships transporting tobacco to Europe. However, the American Revolution halted most shipping, and soon after silt from nearby farms made the Quantico Creek too shallow to be navigable. Today, more than two centuries later, the town is a residential and commercial center with U.S. 1 crossing through it.

Town Hall: The town manager is David Whitlow. The town clerk is Donna Johnson and the treasurer is Retta Ladd. Cathy Lambe is the director of community services.

Town Hall is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is at 17755 Main St. Call (703) 221-3400.

Mayor Fred Yohey Jr. presides over the six-member council, which is comprised of Clyde Washington, Stephanie Bradley, Sue Cornell, Charles “Cliff” Brewer, Raphael Lopez and Brenda Via. The council meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month.

Auto decals: Residents must purchase town auto tags, which cost $24. They go on sale March 1 and tags must be displayed by April 15.

Parks and museums: Residents and visitors have two town parks where they can picnic, play basketball, pitch horseshoes and play baseball. Merchant Park is on Duke Street. Garrison Park is behind the Dumfries Town Hall. The Weems-Botts Museum, on the corner of Cameron and Duke streets, features an array of history about the town and area.

Services: Police Chief Calvin Johnson oversees the 14 officers in the town’s police department. For non-emergency calls, (703) 221-1111.

Trash: Beginning this year, Dumfries residents no longer pay a trash pick up fee.

Shopping: Dumfries’ commercial area includes five shopping centers and several stores and service businesses along U.S. 1 and Main Street.

Special events: May 11 is the day the town was founded and each year the town hosts a Charter Day celebration during the month of May. There are several other celebrations held in Dumfries throughout the year including its Christmas parade.

Taxes: Dumfries imposes a real estate tax of 18 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Residents also pay Prince William County real estate taxes and personal property taxes.

Voter registration: Dumfries residents may register to vote with the Prince William County Registrar.


Haymarket works diligently to maintain an attractive, homespun style and has continued to negotiate with area developers to retain a colonial appearance on new projects in the town.

Chartered in 1799, the square-mile town on Prince William’s northwestern end sprouted up around the Red House, a tavern built by William Skinker. The popularity of the Red House Tavern led to the construction of the Hay Market Inn in 1787, and the town became known as a great sporting center.

The name of the inn and later the town may be derived from these sporting days, as large quantities of hay were sold for the races. The Carolina Road, an old American Indian path later used by settlers as a trade road, still runs near Haymarket today.

In the 1700s, the road earned the nickname Rogue’s Road because of the prevalence of horse and cattle thieves. Originally laid out in 140 lots around 60-foot-wide avenues, Haymarket was burned by Union troops in 1862. Since then, the town has been reborn as a collection of quaint old buildings and shops. It has about 1,000 residents.

Town Hall: The town clerk is Jennifer Preli. The Haymarket Town Hall is located at 15016 Washington St. and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (703) 753-2600.

Haymarket’s mayor is Pamela Stutz. She presides over the six-member town council, which includes John Cole, Robert Weir, Sheila Jarboe, Oswald Vazquez, Susan Shuryn and Natasha Sikorsky. The council meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month.

Taxes: Residents pay both Prince William and the town personal property and real estate taxes. The town levies a real estate tax of 12 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Auto tags: Residents must purchase town auto tags, which cost $15. They go on sale Feb. 1 and must be displayed by April 15.

Parks: Haymarket has turned its old Town Hall, a former schoolhouse at the corner of Washington and Fayette streets, into a museum. The grounds of the museum include a small park developed by the Haymarket Woman’s Club.

Services: Chief James Roop leads Haymarket’s eight-officer police department. Haymarket also provides street lighting and picks up residents’ curbside trash.

Special events: On the third Saturday in September, the town hosts the annual Haymarket Day, a festival including a parade, vendors, food and entertainment.

Voter registration: Residents can register to vote with the Prince William County Registrar.


Occoquan, with its bounty of small shops, art studios and restaurants, boasts an old-fashioned charm that lures many visitors. Antiques and handmade specialty items can be found all over town. Wooden or brick store fronts greet local shoppers and draw tourists from all over the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, especially during the summer and fall arts and crafts shows.

Occoquan, which was designated a state historic district in 1983, got its name from American Indians who lived in the area. The name means “at the end of the water.” The community’s promising industrial future evaporated after the Civil War when poor farming practices created silt in the Occoquan River, which drains the Potomac River’s largest tributary watershed. Ships could not navigate the river, ending Occoquan’s days as a deep-water port.

Today, the Occoquan River is the major source of drinking water for residents of Fairfax and Prince William counties. The town has completed several projects including improvements to Main Street as well as reopening its waterfront to recreational boaters. A new riverwalk and docking facilities now welcome visitors to enjoy the waterfront by land and enjoy the town from the river.

Occoquan has about 800 residents.

Town Hall: The town administrator and clerk is Claudia A. Cruise. The town treasurer is Linda Dunnigan. Town Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (703) 491-1918. Town Hall is at 314 Mill St.

The town’s Web site isoccoquan.org. Send e-mail to [email protected] Letters to the Occoquan Town Council should be addressed to: Occoquan Town Hall, P.O. Box 195, Occoquan, VA 22125. Council members meet in Town Hall on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. The Planning Commission meets on the first Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The Architectural Review Board meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m.

Earnest “Earnie” Porta is the town mayor. The five-member council is comprised of Pamela Konwin, Leo Smith, Barry Dean, Ken Brunsvold and James N. Walbert.

Auto decals: Residents must purchase town auto decals, which cost $22 and are due in November.

Parks and museums: The Mamie Davis Park occupies a sliver of waterfront on Mill Street, opposite the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. It also provides access to the town’s riverwalk and boat docks. The Mill House Museum is in a historic building at 413 Mill St.

Services: Town Sgt. Ed Janik and another officer are charged with keeping law and order in the town. The department’s non-emergency telephone number is (703) 491-1918.

The town contracts for trash pick-up.

Special events: Two craft shows, on the first full weekend in June and the last full weekend in September, are the town’s two major events.

Taxes: Occoquan levies a real estate tax of 8.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. Residents also pay Prince William County real estate and personal property taxes.

Voter registration: Residents register to vote with the Prince William County Registrar.


The town of Quantico is unusual in many ways. While it is not part of the Quantico Marine Corps base, it is bordered by the base on three sides. A municipal park fronting the Potomac River forms Quantico’s fourth boundary. It is the only town in the nation surrounded by a military installation.

When the U.S. Marine Corps needed riverfront land for a training camp in 1917, it leased 5,300 acres beside the town of Quantico. The Marine Corps bought the land the following year. Over time, the town and the base have forged a close relationship. Quantico is one of the only places in the world where Marines may routinely wear their utilities, or camouflage uniforms, off base.

The town has about 560 residents.

Quantico municipal office: The town clerk is Mary J. Booth and the treasurer is Debra Kidwell. They work at town hall, located in an office at the rear of the Bank of America building, 415 Broadway St. It is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call (703) 640-7411.

Mayor Albert “Al” Gasser presides over a five-member town council that includes Russell V. Kuhns, Mitchel P. Raftelis, Iris R. Tharpe, Mary Lou DiMarzio and William J. Unrine.

Auto tags: Decals cost $22 and may be purchased from the town treasurer. The tags are free to active-duty military personnel, volunteer firefighters and those over 65 years of age.

Police: The police department is located at 405 Broadway St. Police Chief Gerald Tolson leads a four-officer police force, including a parking enforcement officer. The non-emergency number for the police department is (703) 640-7500.

Shopping: Stores line Potomac Avenue, the town’s old-fashioned commercial thoroughfare. Restaurants, shoe stores, a bank, dry cleaners, barber shops, tailors, beauty shops, a grocery, pizza parlors, laundromats, financial planner, variety shops, beauty school, used household furnishings shop, uniform shops, a menswear store, a car rental and used car lot all can be found within the town’s nine blocks.

Parks: Quantico Municipal Park is located on River Road on the banks of the Potomac River.

Tax rate: The town levies a real estate tax of 15 cents per $100 assessed valuation. Residents also pay Prince William County personal property taxes and real estate tax.

Transportation: The Quantico train station at the entrance to the town along Potomac Avenue has been renovated and the inside is now open for Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express passengers who previously had to wait outside for their trains. Amtrak offers passenger service from New York to Miami. VRE provides a commuting option. OmniLink bus service also is available.

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