After finding numerous history related geocaches placed by cphug184, JRockford, imfirstdue, reedkickball, and other notables…I thought I'd try my hand at one...I hope you enjoy it. Welcome to the new Oakton Community Park, a Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) park. You’ll find the cache...it’s a true difficulty 1, and there should be no mistaking the hide location, but I’d like you to get more than just a smilie by visiting this spot. It’s steeped in history, and I’ll try to convey that here on the cache page.
The land-use history for Oakton Community Park is based on land ownership records that indicate the property was a section of a 188 acre parcel dating from the early 1800’s. The parcel was subdivided and sold in 1845, and changed hands many times between 1884 and 2001. In 1860 the owner was Gilson Whaley. The “McDowell 1862” and “Hopkins 1879” maps show one structure on this property. In the property tax records for 1861, this parcel was assessed $150.00 because it had a building on it. In 1870 it was assessed $200.00 for the same property. It is believed that the building referenced on the McDowell and Hopkins maps was a log cabin described in historic accounts of Civil War activity in the Oakton area. South Carolina troops camped on this property, and also on what were then the Speer and Millard farms near Blake Lane. The log cabin, and whatever Civil War relevance it had, was destroyed by fire in the mid-20th Century. (The FCPA conducted an archaeological survey of the park, and found low potential for Native American sites. Numerous Civil War relics/artifacts (mini-balls, buckles, plates, pocket knives, buttons, etc.) have been discovered all along the Hunter Mill Corridor. NOTE: Relic hunting on FCPA property is prohibited and against the law.)
In 1880 S. Ernest Smith bought the property. Ernest Smith was the first postmaster of Oakton in 1883. His store and post office were located where the Oakton Shopping Center is now. He also owned and operated a steam powered saw and grist mill, but the exact location of the mill is unknown. Over the ensuing years the property changed hands three more times, until the FCPA acquired the land in 2001 on auction.
The building you see in front of you is the Oakton Schoolhouse, built in 1897. It was originally located approximately one half mile south, at the corner of Hunter Mill Road and Chain Bridge Road. By 1912 the school’s enrollment was at capacity so the building was sold and converted to residential use. It was later used as a hardware store, and since the mid 1960’s was part of the Appalachian Outfitter Store…a local landmark for decades. On January 7th, 2007 the building was moved here to Oakton Community Park and restoration was started. It was restored according to federal standards for work on historic structures. Total interior restoration may be completed at a future date, and there are no current plans to open the building to the public. I was privileged to be escorted inside, and oh if the building could only talk. The Hunter Mill Road Corridor has become eligible for registration in the National Register of Historic Places, and the Oakton Schoolhouse is one of several historic sites in the corridor.
For those of you interested in Dendrology, you'll find fine examples of Eastern Red Cedar, Red Maple, Black Walnut, Black Locust, Sassafras, Virginia Pine, and a variety of Oaks. Scrub plants include Winged Sumac, Blackberry, and Wine Berry. The FCPA Master Plan for this property includes possible improvements to the park in the form of a woodland picnic area, two small pavilions, benches, a paved pathway to explore the northeast portion of the property presently designated a “Natural Resource Protection Zone”, and possibly a tot-lot.
PLEASE NOTE: The container is fragile...handle it gently, replace/cover it exactly as hidden; and please CITO...this is a very clean little park - let's do our best to help it stay that way. Permission to place this cache was granted by the Manager, Area 7, Management Park Operations Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. The Oakton Community Park is open dawn to dusk. Do NOT hunt this cache at night!!
|NOTICE: Please be respectful of the posted park hours. If you enter the park after hours you are trespassing. If you are stopped you can be ticketed or arrested and will put the future of geocaching in the parks in jeopardy.