Aquia Landing

Historical Significance

Aquia Landing is located at the confluence of Aquia Creek and the Potomac River in Stafford County, Virginia. As early as 1815, Aquia Landing served as a steamboat wharf. Southbound travelers came to this point by boat from Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, then took stagecoaches south 15 miles to the city of Fredericksburg. In 1861, the landing was the site of the Battle of Aquia Creek.

Between 1842 and 1862, Aquia Landing was the terminus of the Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad and the only direct rail-to-steamboat transfer point on the Potomac River between Richmond and Washington D.C.. Due to its pivotal location, it served as an interstate slave trade portal and was later transformed into a "gateway to freedom" through which thousands of fugitive slaves passed en route to freedom in the north. These enslaved people included William and Ellen Craft, Henry "Box" Brown, and John Washington.

Brown was born enslaved in 1816 in Louisa County, Virginia and lived there for thirty-three years. After his wife and children were taken from him, he devised a plan to escape. In 1849 he had himself sealed in a small wooden box and shipped to friends and freedom in Philadelphia. He later settled in Massachusetts and traveled around the northern states speaking against slavery.

Historian David Blight has written about John Washington's life (1838-1918) in his book, "A Slave No More." Washington was born enslaved on May 20, 1838, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Washington was hired out to a tobacco factory and later worked in a tavern. During the Civil War, he became a hotel manager where he met Union troops who helped him escape. After obtaining his freedom he worked as a house and sign painter in Washington D.C. and eventually retired to Cohasset, Massachusetts.

Physical Description

No physical description available

Geographical and Contact Information

2846 Brooke Road
Stafford, Virginia
Phone: 540-658-4871

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Aquia Landing,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed May 22, 2019,

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