graphicLoudoun County’s heritage is well-preserved and highly valued by all who live and work here. While the county has been growing and changing for some 250 years, Loudoun’s rich and unique character was formed, in a large part, by the historic significance of the events that occurred and the people who lived here long ago. Our past is one that today’s residents and business owners alike cherish, maintain, and are eager to share.

Long before European settlers made their way here, Native Americans worked the land, hunted, fished, and made their homes in what would one day become Loudoun. Arrowheads and pottery long preserved in farm fields and along the banks of the Potomac River have been uncovered, offering us a glimpse of the earliest lifestyles and history of our region.

The Treaty of Albany pushed the Native American community westward, and by the mid-1720s, European settlers and Tidewater Virginians began arriving. Quakers, Germans, Irish, and Scot-Irish families came primarily from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland to establish farms and communities. Virginians from the southeast followed, and established large and thriving tobacco farms.

When the Virginia House of Burgesses divided Fairfax County in 1757, the western portion was named "Loudoun," after John Campbell, fourth Earl of Loudoun and then-titular Governor of Virginia. Shortly after, leaders appointed Leesburg the county seat, a designation it still holds today.

Loudoun’s land and residents played significant roles in 19th century American history as well; the county even served briefly as the nation’s capital. During the War of 1812, President James Madison established temporary headquarters at Belmont, and when the British burned Washington, the Constitution and other critical federal documents were stored safely at Rokeby in Leesburg.

At the onset of the Civil War, the county residents found themselves at conflict–with one another. While Loudoun ultimately voted to side with the Confederacy, many county residents fought against secession. Skirmishes broke out among Loudouners themselves, pitting friends, neighbors and family members against one another. They also suffered at the hands of passing armies during the war and even experienced a memorable battle. Today, Ball’s Bluff Regional Park and Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery allow visitors to remember the significance of Loudoun and its residents during that tumultuous era.

As for Loudoun’s way of life, agriculture dominated the area’s activity for more than 200 years. By the mid-1800s, Loudoun was considered Virginia’s breadbasket; Loudoun Valley’s farmland produced more corn than any other Virginia county.

With the opening of Washington Dulles International Airport in the 1960s, the Loudoun landscape began to change. Washington Dulles attracted new businesses, workers and families to the area–a trend that continues today. This shift will likely reshape Loudoun’s character in some respects for years to come. At the same time, Loudoun’s heritage will remain firmly ingrained in the county’s overall image. We will continue to live a motto attributed to Lord Loudoun himself: "Change, yes, but tradition, too." It is a motto that has characterized Loudoun since the beginning, and it is one that will carry us well into the decades ahead.

 

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