Leesburg Home of Virginia History and Facts

Leesburg, a Northern Virginia town located in  in Loudoun County, is  steeped in history.  Located about 33 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. at the base of the Catoctin Mountain and adjacent to the Potomac River, 42,616 residents called Leesburg home, according to the 2010 census.  Leesburg is on the northwestern end of the Dulles Greenway, a private toll road that connects to the Dulles Toll Road at Washington Dulles International Airport, allowing for the utmost in commuting convenience, as well.

Leesburg has experienced considerable growth in the last thirty years along with the rest of Loudoun County.  It has transformed from a small, rural town to a suburban bedroom community filled with people who commute throughout the nation’s capitol, and even more growth is centered along the Dulles Greenway and State Route 7 that parallels the Potomac River.  The Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center of the Federal Aviation Administration is found here, too.

Early Plantation Families Called Leesburg Home

European settlement started here in the 1730’s, with tidewater planters who moved in from the south and east and established large farms and plantations.  Many of the First Families of Virginia settled in the vicinity including the Carters, Lees, and Masons.  Nicholas Minor set up a tavern at the intersection of the Old Carolina Road and the Potomac Ridge Road which is now Route 7.  He dubbed the group of building around his tavern George Town in honor of the English King.  The Virginia General Assembly designated the 60 acres around the tavern as the town of Leesburg on October12, 1758.

Leesburg served as a refuge for the U.S. Government and its archives during the War of 1812.  Documents such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were moved here when British forces threatened the capitol.  Marble quarries in the region also helped the capitol rebuild.

A Closely Contested Site in the Civil War

The Battle of Balls Bluff was fought here during the Civil War resulting in a resounding Confederate victory.  The town changed hands several times as Union and Confederate Armies traversed the region during the Maryland and Gettysburg campaigns.  The Battle of Mile Hill was fought north of town in September 1862.  Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee subsequently occupied the town and Colonel John S. Mosby and his partisan Raiders used the town as a base of operations.  The Loudoun County High School mascot, the raiders, reminds those who live in Leesburg of this heritage.

Leesburg Home to Historic Characters in the 20th Century as Well

Leesburg was the home of George C. Marshall, the general in World War II and architect of the Marshall Plan that helped Europe rebuild from the war’s devastation.   Radio and television personality Arthur Godfrey also called Leesburg home.

Today Leesburg serves as the center for government and commerce for Loudoun County.  The Town’s Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and heralded as one of the best preserved and most picturesque downtowns in Virginia.  Leesburg contains 21 entries on the National Register of Historic Places including the only ferry across the Potomac.

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