When you think of Northern Virginia you most often think of traffic and suburban shopping malls not older neighborhoods that retain a small town charm. I happen to be a fan of our local "small" towns and explore them whenever I can. Located down a winding two lane road past horse farms and a few McMansions you will find the town of Clifton one of the oldest in Fairfax County. Originally a hunting ground for George Washington and Lord Fairfax the town came into prominence during the Civil War.
When the Union Army commandeered the Orange & Alexandria railway in 1861, Clifton was the southern most station located on the track. Then called Deveraux Station the Union Army set up camp and fought a number of skirmishes to hold the Confederate soldiers for moving further south. When the war ended one of citizens of the town purchased the railway station and opened a hotel which is now the Hermitage Restaurant. Over the years the town was known for its saloons and later it's hot springs. A little known fact about the town is that Clifton was the first location in Fairfax County to get electricity in 1925.
A number of the original homes that were built in the town are still there today:
The "Homestead" -1771
Mayhugh Tavern -1870
Clifton Baptist Church -1876
Hetzel House- 1908
Lucy Virginia Davis Virginia House-1913
Clifton was added to National Historic Register in 1984. The Heart and Hand Restaurant is a great place to enjoy Sunday Brunch or hold a wedding reception, the Hermitage Inn is always booked during the holiday season and a stop by the general store will make you realize you have stepped back in time. Enjoy an hour or two in Clifton and you will see why it is another secret we like to keep in Fairfax County.
For those who like Urban Legends Clifton is also home of the famous or is that infamous Bunny Man Bridge. I'll leave you to read the tale and if you are brave enough I'll see you in Clifton on Halloween.
For information on another favorite local small town read Stolling the Avenue in Del Ray