Some time back, in 2008, Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority (NVRPA) announced plans to open the Virginia side of White’s Ford as a park. Progress towards that ends has not progressed as quickly as we’d like. Several issues have at times stalled the project, but were resolved in time. Currently, while the park is established, it is not open for use. But NVRPA continues forward with plans to open this important historical resource for visitors. Our local paper, Leesburg Today, ran this update on Monday:
NVRPA Leaders Tour White’s Ford Regional Park; Dedicate Temple Hall Visitor Center
On a perfect spring evening, a group of Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Board members, headed by Chairman Brian Knapp, enjoyed a double header at two of the authority’s north Loudoun properties—touring White’s Ford Regional Park and holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new visitor Center at nearby Temple Hall Farm.
As they piled into two vans, the visitors got a sight of vanishing Loudoun. In almost an hour, passengers took in the scenic beauty of the untouched, but overgrown, farmland around them as they traversed bumpy cart roads across the 295 acres of White’s Ford Regional Park. Located northeast of Leesburg, off the quiet, rural Hibbler Road, the farmland once owned by Confederate war hero Col. E.V. White now lies fallow, with a herd of cattle and mostly derelict farm barns and a corncrib—the only signs of the once working farm.
Director of Park Operations Chris Pauley and Planning and Development Director Todd Hafner, acting as guides and drivers, wound their way up the rutted tracks to White’s house, built on a knoll around the 1850s and now in need of some serious restoration. An old barn lay below and one of the largest white oaks in the area still stood near the house, shielding it with its massive branches.
From there, the group traveled up to the high, flat land that provided a view down through fields, past a silo and dairy barn, to the bottom land and the invisible Potomac River, where in 1862 Confederate troops crossed on their way to the fateful confrontation at Antietam.
Pauley told his visitors the area is rich with bird life and birders of the Wildlife Conservancy have already been out to see it at first hand. The top land is leased to a cattle farmer and is used for haymaking and storage. The flat bottomland lies in the 100-year flood plain, but Pauley noted there is a 12-foot drop to the river from the land.
The authority is moving cautiously with its plans for the park. After the authority acquired the land two years ago, the park plans ran into stiff opposition from neighbors who were concerned about traffic safety on the narrow rural road and noise in the quiet neighborhood…. (Read more)
The article continues on to discuss the past concerns about the road infrastructure. The park project is currently in phase one, which provides for river access, canoe and kayak launch facilities, and hiking trails. (Such trails would link in nicely to horse trails recently opened in nearby Temple Hall Park… BTW.) Later in phase two, the Authority will add cabins and tent camping areas. The Authority will also widen Hibbler Road leading to the park in phase two.
Unfortunately, (from what I understand) the park’s general use plan remains on the table. Plans for an White’s Ford sesquicentennial observance at the site, tentatively scheduled for September of this year, were cancelled. However, I do hope that all issues are resolved soon. If the “Antietam Campaign” crossing could not be observed, perhaps we can at least put something up for Jubal Early’s 1864 crossing!