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Taylorstown is a small community in Loudoun Countymarker, Virginiamarker built on the banks of Catoctin Creek and the surrounding hillside, about two miles (3 km) south of the Potomac River. It was first settled in 1734, and is the location of two of the oldest standing houses in Loudoun County, "Hunting Hill" and "Foxton Cottage", directly across the Catoctin Creek from each other.

Early settlement

Richard Brown was the first resident of the Taylorstown area, a devout Quaker who arrived in the 1730s from Bucks Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker with the intention of establishing a milling operation. Finding Catoctin Creek to be the ideal location, he acquired a large parcel of several hundred acres of farm and woodland which ranged from the Potomac to as far south as Lincolnmarker. In 1734, Brown constructed a small house that would later bear the name of Hunting Hill, and is today the oldest standing building in Loudoun County. Richard Brown died in May 1745, and left his land divided into tracts for his wife and each of his five sons. His wife was left with the tract that contained the Taylorstown area and its buildings, and she later passed her tract to her youngest son, Mercer Brown, who sold it in 1784. The purchaser was Thomas Taylor, a wealthy Quaker from Frederick Countymarker, Marylandmarker who also had a strong interest in a milling operation.

While living at Hunting Hill, Taylor erected a new mill of local stone that today is known simply as the Taylorstown Mill at a site approximately north of the site of the original mill. The Taylorstown Mill was built largely by slaves from local farms, who were hired when their masters could spare them and paid wages according to the Quaker customs of the day. Today there are many initials and names carved into the stones of the Mill--perhaps some of them were from the builders or their employers. Following the mill's completion, he sold off quarter-acre lots of the land surrounding the mill. The new settlers that arrived made the beginning of the Taylor Town community, later given the combined nomenclature of Taylorstown at around 1900. The Taylorstown Mill was continuously in operation until 1911, when its water wheel was sold to the near by Oatlands Mill and the miller converted the water milling operation to steam power. In 1932, the steam engines were removed and the Mill became a feed store until Ms. Anna Hedrick bought it in the late 1950s. From the late 1960s until today, Taylorstown Mill has been a private residence.

Establishment as a community

Taylorstown was transformed from a small settlement into a thriving agricultural community over the period of about a hundred years. The greatest catalyst for growth was farming and milling (there were at least three mills in the area) and also to some extent iron mining from the local Furnace Mountain, which attracted miners during the late 18th century and early 19th century. Traces of the old mining operation remain even today. The furnace used to separate iron from the ore was located near the Potomac river and a tunnel was dug to channel water from the Catocin Creek to operate a bellows using water as its power source. During the 19th Century, Taylorstown had a post office, a blacksmith's shop, 2 Mills (one is still standing), a US Government operated still, general and supply stores and even a movie theatre. The Taylorstown area was one of the most densly populated areas of Loudoun county at this time. Besides the buildings that serviced the area's many farmers and mining community there are also records of schools, most notably the Crossroads School built in 1834, which was located near Waterford Downs until the 1940s.

Trouble during the Civil War

Taylorstown was the location of a small scuffle during the American Civil War. Once account of this action, according to local lore is the following: As most of the original residents of Taylorstown were Quakers, much of the population was sympathetic to the North, and aided Northern forces by smuggling food and supplies across the Potomac River. In retaliation, a group of Confederate soldiers attacked the locals and burned down the mill and the only bridge across Catoctin Creek. Local legend has it that Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was commanding this operation. While probable, Jackson's involvement can not be confirmed.

In reality, it is well documented that the Union forces burned most of the barns and mills in Loudoun County in the later part of 1864. This was in retaliation for Mosby's incursions in the region and affected even the Quakers, who did not support Mosby's men or the war. Another account of why the Mill at Taylorstown was spared is that the Miller and owner at that time, Mr. Williams, and four or five men with rifles exchanged fire with the Union troops sent to burn it and held them at bay. There is a bullet hole in the first floor wall of the Mill at the back that is said to have dated from that day. In any case, the Mill never burned and to this day its wide, massive chestnut beams survive in nearly as good condition as the day they were put in place.

Proposed dam and the Catoctin Valley Defense Alliance

The Catoctin Valley Defense Alliance was formed in 1974 by the citizens of Taylorstown. The group became very active in response to the possibility of Catoctin Creek being dammed. The Fairfax Water Authority, the Washington, D.C.marker Government, and the Washington Commission proposed plans for a drought relief water supply. This plan deemed the of the lower Catoctin Valley "the most effective, reliable and cost effective" of a multitude of water supply alternatives considered by the engineers. A dam would be built near where Catoctin Creek empties into the Potomac, which would create a five mile (8 km)-long, . deep "feeder lake" that could hold 14 billion gallons of water. All of the collected water could be released in a time of drought, which would swell the Potomac and provide emergency water as the water flowed down the river to Washington, D.C. If constructed, it would place the Taylorstown Historic District in danger of destruction.

The local community rallied behind the Catoctin Valley Defense Alliance to help stop such a "feeder lake". During this time, local vehicles displayed bright red bumper stickers which proclaimed "Don't Dam Taylorstown," which was changed to "Don’t Dam Loudoun" when it became clear that more land was going to be endangered beyond Taylorstown and its surrounding environs. Phil Erenkranz and Miss Anna Hedrick, two lawyers actively involved in the Defense Alliance, went before the Virginia General Assemblymarker in Richmondmarker. It became Virginia state law that one county did not have the right of "eminent domain" over another. No longer could Fairfax Countymarker and Washington, D.C. legally take water or anything else from Loudoun County without permission. Defeated legally, the engineers were no longer interested in building their dam. (However, a group of beavers built a large dam on the exact site proposed for damming not more than a week later.) Compelled to protect the community from future threats, citizens sought out preservation legislation: Catoctin Creek was designated a State Scenic River, and the town center of Taylorstown was registered as a historical location under the Historical Preservation Act.

Contemporary Taylorstown

Taylorstown is today a community of about four thousand people (3,216 were recorded in the 2000 census, a number that has grown significantly) who live generally within a three-mile (5 km) radius of the original town center. It is no longer considered an official township of Virginia, and has consequently been vaguely divided among the distantly neighboring towns of Leesburgmarker, Lovettsvillemarker, Luckettsmarker, and Waterfordmarker. This has resulted in a confusion of government services: some residents have the address of one town, the phone number of another, and the school of whichever district maintains the nearest bus route.

The population is economically diverse. Some residents are artists and do not possess working plumbing, other residents live in mansions worth tens of millions, and the rest are somewhere in between. Easy access to the MARC commuter rail has also brought in a number of residents who commute to work everyday in Washington, D.C. via an hour-long train ride. Some residents live in the hamlet-communities of the EcoVillage of Taylorstown, and collectively own a large portion of the western farmland.

Despite the confusion of geographical boundaries and the wide diversity, Taylorstown continues to be a close community. It is actively concerned about the well-being of its residents and its land, interests that are represented locally and abroad by The Taylorstown Community Association.

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