Archaeology on the Potomac River
Douglas Point, on the banks of the historic Potomac River, has been home to human populations for thousands of years. Now owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the Douglas Point area hosts diverse plant and animal populations as well as a historic homesite occupied as early as the 18th century and throughout the 19th century. The focus of this study is the period between 1841-1874, when the homesite was owned by the Reverend William J. Chiles. The chimney ruins of his house, built in 1798 by Francis Shepard, mark the archaeological traces of these early residents and their households.
The valuable historic and natural resources here, including unique and rare "spring seeps," have not always been protected. Beginning the 1970s industrial concerns attempted establish facilities at Douglas Point, including a sand and gravel pit and a nuclear power plant. However, the local community raised awareness of the historic and natural value of Douglas Point and the Chiles Homesite. Eventually, the Bureau of Land Management acquired this land and protected its unique resources for future generations. One result of preservation efforts is this research to better understand the history of the Chiles Homesite.
Click through the links on the upper left to learn more about the site. Along with this webpage, a public walking path has been created at Douglas Point, complete with interpretive panels in the areas of particular interest. The "virtual tour" page lets you view the scenery and panels at the stops along the trail.
This website was prepared for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Eastern States Office by the William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research. Research and interpretive planning was supported through transportation enhancement funding provided by the Federal Highway Administration. The William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research wishes to thank the BLM and the people of Douglas Point for their interest and help with this project.