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Town of Herndon, Rich in History

Rail plays key role.

The Town of Herndon is situated on land that was given through a patent from Charles II, to Robert Carter and Thomas Barnes. Eventually the land fell into the possession of Thomas, the Sixth Lord of Fairfax, Baron of Cameron.

This area was originally a collection of farms, however around 1857 the railroad arrived. The railroad station quickly became the center of the growing community. The station had growing importance, becoming the location of the Post Office as well as the meeting center for the town.

It was at one of these meetings that the name of the town was suggested. The town is named after Captain William Lewis Herndon, a seafarer who became a hero after a hurricane disaster caused him to go down with his ship. Local legend says that the man who suggested the name of the town was actually one of the few male survivors of the disaster.

During the next 20 years, the town grew slowly. There was a lull during the Civil War when part of the railway was destroyed. Both the Northern and Southern troops tore up the rails to disrupt the flow of supplies.

In 1879, Virginia approved Herndon's charter and Herndon became an incorporated town. Then, as it is now, Herndon was about four and a third miles square, with the railroad Depot roughly at its center.

Dairy farming thrived with the railroad proving valuable for transporting the milk. Passenger trains provided transportation for those who worked in Washington and for those who lived in Washington to escape the city to the countryside.

With the advent of cars, the railway was no longer the backbone of the area. The last job the railway performed was hauling sand to be used in the concrete mix of Dulles Airport. The last train ran through Herndon in August in 1968.

The Herndon Museum is now located at the Depot, which is the original building, that has been renovated several times. The depot is now located next to the W & OD trail, which runs along the path the old rail line used to run. There is also a caboose on a nearby site to commemorate the railway line that used to be the central part of the town.