Chopawamsic, VA- Captain John Smith(Jamestown Settlement) is the first known non-native to visit this private, 13-acre island situated 26 miles south of Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River.
Unfortunately not much is known about the early history and ownership of the island due to the burning of the Stafford County Courthouse during the Civil War. But some history can be traced through deeds. The first non-native residents of the island was Giles Brent, who settled there with his Piscataway Indian wife in 1649. The first known owner is Reverend Alexander Scott of the Church of Overwharten, now known as Aquia Church. After the Civil War it is known that E.A. Hore sold the property to Levi Woodbury in 1878.
In the late 1880’s the property was sold to the Mount Vernon Ducking Society of which President Theodore Roosevelt a member( before Presidency). The line then passed from The National Geographic Society, Chas. H. Pardoe,Chas. J. Butler, Wilson and Lucy Fisher to Wesley and Dee Fry and eventually Columbia Tours International bought it in 1983. Alexander Graham Bell was a frequent visitor and John Lennon even considered purchasing it at one time.
It is also know that around the turn of the 19th-20th Century, Samuel Langley( yes, the same one Langley Air Force Base is named after) experimented with manned flight from a houseboat moored Chopawamsic Island. Three flights in 1896, using Aerodrome Numbers 5 and 6, covered distances of one half mile (Aerodrome No. 6 on May 6, 1896), 3,300 feet (Aerodrome No. 5 on May 6, 1896), and 4800 feet (Aerodrome No. 6 on November 28, 1896). The official observer for the May 6, 1896 tests was Langley’s friend and colleague, Alexander Graham Bell.Langley’s model planes for those experiments had a wingspan of about 14 feet (4.3 m) and were powered by a small steam engine.
Now decades after Columbia Tours International purchased it, it goes back on the market for a whopping $15 million. The island is listed for sale by Rock Star Real Estate Band, a sub-group of Wiechert Real Estate, based out of Woodbridge, VA.
All the homes and structures on the property are pre-WW1 and would need rebuilding, along with clearing of mature growth. For those interested the island has it’s own well and septic system, along with a dock, River access, and a traffic free commute to anywhere along the Potomac River!