News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Flashback Monday: Reston's Earliest Days

Prehistoric Reston.jpeg

What was Reston like during its Jurassic Age -- pre-1964, pre-homicidal nudist colony? During a recent lecture about Reston's early history sponsored by the Reston Historic Trust, historians Karen Washburn and Ted McCord gave us the shocking truth:
"There just wasn’t much to look at other than woods," McCord said.
Washburn told the story of the Northern Neck Proprietary Grant, which was a land grant that included Reston. The land was largely unsettled until Thomas, Fifth Lord Fairfax of Cameron inherited five-sixths of the property through his wife’s father, and they began to explore the area.

"The owners who bought the land didn’t want to move up from the Tidewater region, so Reston remained vacant."
And so began the long history of Reston being dissed by folks down in Tidewater.

But eventually, folks started venturing up to what would someday become our bucolic earth-toned community, apparently in search of something other than trees -- namely, copper.
Washburn talked about how Robert "King" Carter, who managed the land for Lord Fairfax, owned the land that later became Herndon, but didn’t seem to be interested in settling Reston.

"My conjecture is that Robert was looking for copper on his land near Herndon, and he thought there might be some in Reston, but he was wrong," she said.
So much for our copper-panning operation at Buttermilk Creek.

But what truly transformed the ur-Reston of the post-Colonial era was a railroad.
After the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Thornton purchased 8,663 acres.

"His rationale was that the land was right between Alexandria’s ports, and merchants needed to get their goods to the Shenandoah, and they would need to build a railroad on the land," Washburn said. "He thought it would go through the middle of the parcel, and he was right."
The more things change...

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