Alum Spring Park - Fredericksburg, VA
N 38° 17.384 W 077° 28.875
18S E 282996 N 4240874
Quick Description: Alum Spring Park is a 34-acre woodland retreat off Greenbrier Drive with picnic tables, a playground, and hiking trails. It is also one of Fredericksburg's most historic sites.
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 7/21/2008 11:41:42 AM
Waymark Code: WM48EK
The park is named for an alum spring that is found at the end of a sandstone cliff which is a geological formation about 100 million years old.
To enter the park, it is necessary to drive through a shallow river bed known as Hazel Run, although there is a small parking area available before the ford and a footbridge for access. The park offers additional parking, picnic tables with charcoal grills, restrooms, a pavilion, playground equipment, hiking trails along Hazel Run, sandstone cliffs, and historic sites and is a favorite for water activities and geocaching.
In the 1700's and 1800's, alum was used for preserving meats and tanning hides. Many also believed that alum spring water had curative powers.
George Washington surveyed the property for his brother-in-law, Fielding Lewis, who operated a mill at Alum Spring, and his son John became the next owner. William B. Stuart had a water grist flour mill and sawmill in 1809-10. By June of 1831, Samuel Alsop was operating what was termed "the Alum Spring Mill." Today, a sign marks the location of the gristmill race.
Buildings at Alum Spring were used as a prison for Hessian and British troops captured at Trenton NJ by George Washington. After the surrender of Cornwallis, the buildings were also used as a hospital.
In the 1800's, ice taken from the Alum Spring millpond was a prized commodity. A sign on the trail at a large indentation marks the location of a icehouse.
The narrow pathway between the Alum Spring rock and the mill pond was the site of duels between William Glassell and Robert Ritchie in 1790 and William Thornton and Francis Fitzhugh Conway in 1803.
Part of the park includes the railbed for the old Virginia Central Rail Road. A sign marking the old railbed provides a brief history.
During the bombardment of Fredericksburg in December, 1862, the sandstone cliff was a refuge for hundreds of women and children.
In 1965, historian and teacher Robert A. Hodge persuaded Fredericksburg officials to turn the Alum Spring property into a public park saving this historic site from development. For further information on the park's history and interesting facts, you can visit History Point.
Alum Spring Park is open year round:
- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 1 through March 31
- 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 1 through October 31
For further information, call Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation at 540-372-1086