|10,500 BC||Paleo-Indians were the first people known to inhabit
|The area around Great Falls served as a meeting place for Native
Americans, especially members of the Powhatan Confederacy and the
|1649||King Charles II of England gave all the land
between the Rappahanock and Potomac rivers to seven Englishmen
|1719||Thomas (6th Baron) Lord Fairfax inherited the property.
|1737||Thomas Lord Fairfax set aside 12,588 acres in the area of Great
Falls for himself.
|1759||Bryan (8th Baron) Lord Fairfax (close friend of George Washington)
received some of the land near Great Falls from his cousin, Thomas
|1785-1828||The Patowmack Canal Company constructed and operated at Great Falls
one of five skirting canals designed to make the Potomac River navigable
to the Ohio River Valley. The town of Matildaville (chartered in
1790) served as headquarters for the Company and home for the workers.
The company went bankrupt and turned over its assets to the newly
formed Chesapeake and Ohio Canal company in 1828.
|1833||Much of the property that is now Great Falls Park was acquired
by Albert Fairfax and later sold at auction to pay debts. It was
purchased by three men: Hall Neilson, Thomas C. Jones, and William
|1839||Neilson, Jones, and Bradley organized the Great Falls Manufacturing
Company to develop a large textile milling operation utilizing water
power from the river. They re-chartered Matildaville as South Lowell,
modeling it after the textile mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts.
|1855-1867||The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Aqueduct Dam (the
park's northern boundary) to supply water for the District of Columbia.
|1895-1900||The Great Falls Manufacturing Company was reorganized as the Great
Falls Power Company in order to develop hydroelectric power, but
later sold out to the Potomac Electric and Power Company.
|1906||Great Falls Amusement Park opened and a light rail line was built
from Georgetown to Great Falls. The rail line eventually merged with
the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad.
|1912||The Daughters of the American Revolution placed a brass plaque
on a boulder overlooking the falls, to honor George Washington.
|1930||Congress enacted the Capper-Crampton Act, which established the
George Washington Memorial Parkway. It included a provision that
Great Falls Park would eventually be included to provide protection
and preservation for the historic Patowmack Canal and the natural
|1947-1952||Potomac Edison Power Company (PEPCO) became the sole owner of about
800 acres of the area. The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad continued
to own and operate the amusement park until 1952.
|1952||Fairfax County purchased 16 acres from the
railroad. These 16 acres became the county's first park land. The
owner of the original carousel
dismantled and sold it because he "did not want to work for the county." Another
carousel began operation in 1954 and continued operations until
1972, when it was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes.
|1956||The Nature Conservancy made efforts to explore ways to preserve
the area still owned by PEPCO.
|1958||Fairfax County planned to condemn the PEPCO property with intentions
of starting a county park.
|1960||The National Park Service (NPS) leased the property from PEPCO
and the land was administered jointly by the NPS and Fairfax County.
|1965||The NPS was authorized to acquire 783 acres at Great Falls. The
NPS signed an agreement with Fairfax County to acquire the County's
|1966||NPS acquired the Great Falls land and started operations of Great
Falls Park as a unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
|1969||The Patomack Canal Historic District was designated a National
Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
A commemorative brass plaque was placed on a boulder next to Lock
1 of the Canal.
|1983||The ruins of the Patowmack Canal and Matildaville were declared a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.|