Aquia Harbour, as well as Government Island, was owned by Westinghouse Corporation in 1979. At that time, the Aquia Harbour Homeowners had a large map in their office that showed the island divided up into available home lots. Some lots were already sold when resident Jane Conner wrote a research paper uncovering its rich history. Upon reading her paper, the attorney for Westinghouse, as well as the homeowners, decided to purchase the island for $10 and services rendered. 12 years later, the owner wished to sell the island. Mrs. Conner contacted the attorney who wanted $410,000 for the island! Eventually, he lowered the price to $240,000 but still no one had the money to buy it, not even Stafford County, the Conservation Fund, National Park Service, or the White House.
Eventually, the island’s owner lowered the price to $200,000. The Board of Supervisors approved that County Administrator, C.M. Williams and representatives from the Board of Supervisors purchase the island in 1998. In 2000, the Stafford Supervisors appointed a committee chaired by former White House Curator, Rex Scouten, to see if it was feasible to turn the island into a park. The committee included Jane Conner and C.M. Williams and others from the National Park Service, U.S. Capitol, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, HABS/HAER and other important agencies. The committee devised a plan for opening a public, low-impact park with signage. In 2010, Stafford County was pleased to open a park so that visitors can see the place where stone was quarried that helped build structures in Colonial America as well as our White House and U.S. Capitol.
Today, an elevated boardwalk enables visitors to explore a nature trail through wetlands and woods. A scenic heritage trail through the 17 acre island is dotted with interpretive signage enabling the viewer to learn the island’s history from Native American through the early nineteenth century. The island, with its wetlands and marsh areas, provides a variety of habitats for birds and other wildlife. Government Island, “America’s Historic Stone Quarry,” is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. (Photo: Stafford County Parks and Recreation)