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Horsepen Run Print E-mail

For those of you who may not have had the opportunity to familiarize yourself with what Horsepen Run is and the repairs that have been made. It goes something like this.

Horsepen Run is a 370 acre tract of undeveloped land that was donated by the original developer of CountrySide, 437 Land Company to the Proprietary. The CountrySide community dates to the mid 70's when approximately 1,000 acres of land was subdivided as a Planned Unit Housing Development. Prior to this time, the area was primarily open farmland with scattered wooded areas, most notably along the creeks and other large drainage ways. It's history includes three phases of Archaeological Investigations, both historic and prehistoric. Archival sources for prehistoric sites in and around the Horsepen Run area offer evidence of habitation dating at least from the Early Archaic (ca. 7000 B.C.) through European contact. The earliest records of European land ownership dates back to 1649, when a group of English aristocrats were granted proprietorship of the entire Northern Neck of Virginia roughly one-quarter of the states land mass, by King Charles II. Actual settlement of the Horsepen Run area does not appear to have begun until the later half of the eighteenth century. The project area had a relatively high resource potential for early European settlers, notably the good agricultural bottomland along the Potomac River floodplain. However, by the end of the eighteenth century, the agricultural lands had been severely depleted, apparently exhausted by continuous tobacco cultivation.


During the Civil War, Loudoun County found itself at the mercy of both Union and Confederate troops who regularly occupied and reoccupied its countryside, stripping the local farmers of their horses, cattle, hogs, grain, and forage. The graves of several unknown Union soldiers are located in the Jenkins family cemetery; which is overgrown but still standing in the forest just east of the landfill near CountrySide.

The Horsepen Run site continued to be used for agricultural purposes until these practices were officially abandoned in 1984. Horsepen Run is currently an open parcel of land that is slowly reverting to a floodplain, forested condition. It is one of the last large stretches of wild land.

176 acres of the site (47%) would be classified by federal authorities to be jurisdictional wetland.


On September 23, 1992 the Board of Directors approved Resolution #156 for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee for Horsepen Run. The committee's mission statement was to determine from the community what if any improvements should be developed on this land. An extensive community survey was performed and the majority of the community responded that the area should remain in its natural state with the low impact improvements to the road. There were two instances that required fire and rescue equipment to this area. The first was a fire that had broken out and required the Fire Department's help in putting it out. With the second being a man suffering a heart attack and requiring transportation to the hospital. In both instances the fire and rescue staff members advised the Proprietary of their difficulty they had experienced in driving on the road.

If you had not been on this road, I can tell you from experience, its driving conditions were not favorable.

Over the years the road which consists of gravel remains and dirt had experienced severe washout areas that created three to four feet deep ditches. Due to the flood plain and wetlands the road and the area bordering the road at times would be consumed in mud.


So, with the community's input, the Proprietary proceeded in obtaining a thorough engineering study. The firm chosen, The RBA Group, was one who had extensive experience in the wetlands field. After site inspections were performed to determine the wetlands area, a repair plan was devised and submitted to both the Army Corp. of Engineers and Loudoun County Building and Development. Upon approval from both of these government agencies the task at hand became the selection of a contractor to perform the work. This proved to be the most difficult segment of the entire project. Approximately 10 contractors were solicited. Some did not respond and all others except one declined due to the large scope of work. This project had a large potential for unknowns. For example, the area could need more gravel, would the weather cooperate, the work needed to be performed during low flow conditions, etc. Also, large construction equipment was required along with the unique factors of the project. The project consisted of grading, building diversion dikes, installing water control culverts and last the gravel installation over 1 3/4 mile of road.

The one contractor, Fairfax Excavation and Paving stood alone at the Bidder's Conference. Their enthusiasm and excitement about the project was right in step with that of the CountrySide community. This project from beginning to end was a six year project, commencing September 23, 1992 and completed September 1, 1998.

This was a day to remember. The leveling of the road will assist in hikes and nature walks in enjoying this wonderful natural area.

The driving of vehicles other than emergency equipment and repair vehicles is prohibited. The road is meant to be used as a walking road to access the pavilion and picnic tables at the edge of the Potomac River.

Please take a walk on the repaired Horsepen Run Road.


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