|This was the site of the Dulin farmhouse in the 1700s.|
Amateur historian Craig Day, who grew up in the area and has been exploring it ever since he was a student at Falls Church High School in the 1970s, led a tour of the area last week hosted by the Friends of Holmes Run. Day, a retired geographer with the Defense Department, is a track and field coach at his old school.
|Craig Day describes objects discovered in the Holmes Run watershed. |
Before leading a walk through the watershed, Day showed off some of the artifacts he found in the area, including Native American arrowheads, metal pipes from old wells, military medals, glass bottles, a flag holder and compass from Colonial times, a live Civil War shell, a brick with a dog paw print, and much more.
When Virginia was still a British colony, the Dulin family settled in the area as a tenant on land owned by John Fitzhugh. The Dulin farmhouse was built in the 1700, Day says. They had a spring house, barn, and fields of wheat and corn tended by slaves.
During the Civil War, the area was considered no-man’s land between the Union and Confederate lines, and the Dulin property was the setting of several skirmishes.
In 1887, Charles and Emma Campbell purchased the Dulin property and named it Wilderness Farm. The Campbell family owned it until 1901.
|The Holmes Run trail on the former site of Camp Alger. |
After the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana in February 1889 ushered in the Spanish American War, the property was rented to the Army for a military training base. There was a huge tent city, known as Camp Alger, named for Secretary of the Army Russell A. Alger.
Camp Alger housed 30,000 soldiers from all over the country. It had a field hospital and several wells, including one 150 feet deep. A community of vendors sprung up near what was later Route 50 to sell goods to the soldiers.
Five months later, Camp Alger was closed following a typhoid outbreak. While many soldiers got sick, only seven died, Day says. By the time the epidemic ended, the war was over.
The Dulin house was abandoned in the 1920s and fell to ruin. By 1937, the roof had caved in. Eventually, only the chimney was left standing.
|The 8th Ohio Infantry Regiment at Camp Alger. |
Although construction started on the golf course, the project was dropped after the stock market crashed in 1929.
The Chiles family owned the property until the late 1970s, when planning started on the office park along Fairview Park Drive. Day wrote a history of the Chiles tract for a Fall Church High School history class.
An office building initially housing Computer Science Corp. was built on the site of the Dulin house in 1984. The building is currently occupied by General Dynamics.
Day’s goal is to have a permanent display of his artifacts at Falls Church HS or Thomas Jefferson Library.
He is currently working with teachers at FCHS to create an interdisciplinary curriculum on the history and environment of the land around the school. Day can determine what had been built on the land by studying the topography and vegetation.