Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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Motorists on Little River Turnpike were startled last Saturday morning as Col. John Mosby, in full Confederate uniform, could be seen riding his horse near the George Mason Regional Library.

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Motorists on Little River Turnpike were startled last Saturday morning as Col. John Mosby, in full Confederate uniform, could be seen riding his horse near the George Mason Regional Library. Although Mosby was known as “The Grey Ghost,” this was no apparition. Civil War re-enactor Jimmy Fleming and his horse, Will, were special guests for the dedication of the Action at Annandale historical marker. The ninth Civil War-related historic marker in Mason District, the marker recognizes the significance of the roadbed for the unfinished Manassas Gap Railroad. The roadbed was a route for both Union and Confederate troops as they traveled through the area, and also marked the site of a skirmish between some 200 Confederate cavalrymen and a Union barricade on Dec. 2, 1861.  The Confederates successfully overran the barricade, but retreated west to Centreville when the Union sent in reinforcements from the 32nd New York Regiment.

The marker is on the grounds of the George Mason Regional Library and, as a Fairfax County marker, sports the traditional colors of General George Washington’s Revolutionary War uniform, buff and blue. Virginia’s state historic markers are silver and black, and have a “T” with a number on them. Congressman Gerry Connolly and Fairfax Board Chairman Sharon Bulova joined me for the dedication and program, held in glorious fall weather, with several more re-enactors in full costume, and a number of onlookers and history buffs.  Barbara Peters, who works at the library, said that her great-grandfather was a member of the 32nd New York Regiment.  It seems that she wasn’t the first member of her family to come to Annandale, she noted.  The marker and commemoration was the idea of longtime Annandale resident Helen Winter, who sought the funding and placement at the library.

Remnants of the Manassas Gap roadbed can be seen in the adjacent Poe Terrace Park east of the library.  A narrow forested trail leads to what’s left of a bridge abutment.  Other areas of the roadbed are at Hidden Oaks Nature Center and the Manassas Gap Park at the end of Woodland Road in Annandale.  Sturdy shoes are recommended when you visit.

Other markers on Mason District’s Civil War Trail include J.E.B. Stuart at Munson’s Hill and Lincoln Reviews the Troops on Leesburg Pike; Mason’s Hill on Columbia Pike; and Mosby Attacks Annandale near Hummer Road and I-495. A map and information for nine Civil War Trail markers is available by calling 703-256-7717, or email [email protected] Plans also are underway to publish brochures about all 12 historic markers and other historic sites in Mason District.  Those should be available next month.

Mason District’s Fall Town Meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 21, from 7 – 9 p.m., at the newly-renovated Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church (west of Loehmann’s Plaza Shopping Center). Remember last winter’s incredible snowstorms? Staff from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will explain the processes, policies, and changes to VDOT’s severe weather program.  Information about year-round road maintenance, a state responsibility in Fairfax County, will be included in the presentation, with plenty of time planned for questions and answers. I look forward to seeing you there.


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]