What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

People and Places of Loudoun County

Loudoun is made up of parks, trails, roads, schools and libraries named after people and places that have influenced the county in one way or another. Below are some landmarks residents drive by everyday. What’s in their names?

<sh>Harry Byrd Highway

<bt>Residents drive up and down Harry Byrd Highway, also known as Route 7, to get from eastern to western parts of the county. Former U.S. Sen. Harry Byrd (D-Va.) was a huge supporter of the construction of highways, but also believed in a "pay as you go" method, because he hated debt.

After careers in the newspaper business and president of the Shenandoah Valley Turnpike Company, he ran for state senate. In 1915, he was elected to the senate and served on the roads and privileges committee. He believed in good roads and government efficiency.

Byrd introduced legislation that allowed the state to buy the Valley Turnpike and remove the tolls. In 1918, he introduced legislation to create a state highway system.

Byrd also served as governor of Virginia, where he continued to improve roads and supported a state highway system.

<sh>Claude Moore Farm

<bt>Dr. Claude Moore lived on the Claude Moore Farm until his death in 1991. The radiologist, conservationist and multimillionaire landowner gave the 357-acre farm to the National Wildlife Federation in 1975, with the understanding that it would continue to be used for nature conservation purposes.

In 1886, the National Wildlife Federation sold Claude Moore Farm to developers Miller and Smith Land Inc. for $8.5 million.

Moore sued the National Wildlife Federation alleging fraud. The suit, which reached the Supreme Court Virginia, was dismissed and in 1989 and Loudoun County purchased the property from developers for $13.7 million, to be used as a regional park, renamed Claude Moore Park.

The farm also served as a wildlife center and popular visiting location for nature lovers and bird watchers. His residence was a two-story log cabin, which he bought, moved and reconstructed. He collected cars and old farm wagons and cradles, and often took his meals directly from a tin.

Moore died of pneumonia Tuesday, July 11, 1991.

<sh>Braddock Road

<bt>According to local stories, Braddock Road was built for Edward Braddock’s army to march to Fort Duquesne, in what is now downtown Pittsburgh, Pa., during the French and Indian War. The army had to retreat during the war and stories say soldiers buried cannons full of gold along the road.

<sh>Hay Road

<bt>George Hay, a dairy farmer in the 1890s who residents say loved to drink Scotch and was generous in his wages to poor farm help.


<bt>In the 1700s, Ashburn was known as Farmwell, after landowner George Lee’s plantation or after the railroad stop there.

Legend has it, a "Senator Stuart" known as the "Silver Senator" lived there and one day a lightning bolt struck a large ash tree on his farm and the tree burned for one week. Since the senator was the town’s most prominent citizen, and since the town needed a new name, officials named it after the ash burn.

But according to local historian Eugene Scheel, the name Ashburn dates before the senator’s arrival.

In 1841, Dr. George Lee sold off a 580-acre tract of his Farmwell plantation to John Janney, a noted Leesburg lawyer who in 1861 was elected president of the convention to decide whether Virginia should secede from the Union.

When Janney sold the tract in 1870, the name Ashburn was attached to it, for an ash grove by a burn, an Old English word for spring or stream.


<bt>Arcola used to be called Gum Spring. Gum Spring was named for a sweet gum tree that stood next to a spring. In 1836, the name Gum Spring was taken by a town in Amelia County, Va., future birthplace of tennis player Arthur Ashe. Later the town in Loudoun was renamed Arcola, after a large farm there.

One reminder of the name is the section of Route 659 known as Gum Spring Road today.

<sh>Sterling and the W&OD Trail

<bt>In 1859, a railroad from Washington, D.C., was being built through the county. Its first stop was in Sterling, which, at the time, was called Guilford Station.

By end of June 1872, Guilford Station changed its name to Loudoun. The postmaster there thought Loudoun was a more logical name than Guilford Station, since it was the first stop in the county.

But the name never stuck. Many residents found it confusing to have the depot and its surrounding land have the same name as the county.

The position of postmaster of the eastern Loudoun station was changed often and eventually the depot’s name was changed to Sterling.

Historians believe Sterling was named after Lord Loudoun’s castle in Scotland. Another theory is railroad owner J.P. Morgan named it "sterling" in respect to his banking interests. Sterling means "thoroughly excellent."

The standard for English currency was a sterling and this may have contributed to the name as well.

The railroad that ran through Sterling was called the Washington and Ohio Railroad. When Morgan bought the railroad in 1883 he renamed it Washington, Ohio and Western Railroad. The railroad was eventually named Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. When the railroad shut down, it became the Washington and Old Dominion Trail Regional Park.

<sh>Sterling Park, Countryside, Sugarland Run

<bt>Development began in Sterling Park, dubbed the first planned community east of the Mississippi, in 1963.

Sugarland Run established itself as the second planned community in the 1970s. Sugarland Run was named for the sugar maples that grew on its land. The run is a physical boundary line between Loudoun and Fairfax counties.

Countryside was once made up of wheat and dairy farms. Now, its subdivisions carry the names of plantations there. These subdivisions include Oatlands, Oakridge, Welbourne, Belmont, Morven, Rokeby and Foxfield.

<sh>Monroe Technology Center

<bt>The Monroe Technology Center is named after longtime teacher and principal Charles S. Monroe.

Monroe was a teacher at various Loudoun schools and served as principal of Leesburg High School until he retired in 1962.

During his tenure there, he established vocational technology classes in agriculture, mechanics and home economics. Monroe planted the seed for the first vocational school in the county.

Monroe also played a role in bringing Northern Virginia Community College to the county. He served as master of ceremonies at its groundbreaking in 1973 and played an important role on campus in 1974.

Moore died Sept. 15, 1986.

<sh>Thomas Balch Library

<bt>Located in Leesburg, the Thomas Balch Library, was named after a prominent lawyer born in the area.

Balch, born in 1821 on the corner of King and Cornwall streets in Leesburg, was a pioneer in the field of international law. In 1864, Balch presented a plan to President Abraham Lincoln that suggested a settlement of the Alabama Claims, a dispute between the United States and Great Britain over the Confederate ship Alabama.

Alabama, which was constructed in Great Britain, caused a great deal of damage to Union ships during the Civil War.

Balch advocated the idea of an international court, which was eventually convened in Geneva, Switzerland.

The tribunal ruled Great Britain pay the United States $15,500,000 in gold for negligence in allowing the Confederacy to use Alabama as a destroyer.

<lst>Sources: * Established 1887, A history of Sterling, Va. Past and Present by the staff at the Print House Express of Countryside

* Voices of Arcola Then ad Now Articles and Stories by Arcola Elementary School Fourth Grades, May 19, 1999

* Thomas Balch Library: A Monument to the Father of International Arbitration, Alice Gildersleeve, Oct. 20, 1992

* U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Library, Highway History, Senator Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia, The Pay-As-You-Go-Man, www.fwha.dot.gov/infrastructure/byrd.htm.

* Ashburn Villages Agragarian Routes, Eugene Scheel, www.loudounhistory.org