The Historic Marker at Burke Nursery
Celebrate the Past: The past always marks us as we explore future options to create a wonderful present. To celebrate the past surrounding Burke, Virginia a historic marker was installed in 2015 at Burke Nursery & Garden Centre commemorating the former Burke Station Racetrack (later called Copperthite Racetrack) which stood on a portion of the Burke Nursery property.
This Historic Marker will be dedicated on Sunday, July 31, 2016 with a free family-friendly festival from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm. You’ll hear music by the King Street Bluegrass, get to see harness race horses and Model T cars, and sample free pies from the Connecticut-Copperthite Pie Company.
Chairman Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, will attend the actual Dedication Ceremony which occurs at 12:00 pm.
Silas Burke may never have envisioned that he would become the namesake for Burke, Virginia. He purchased a tract of land in this area and built a house he called “Woodbury” overlooking the Pohick Creek. (The house is located in Burke overlooking Burke Lake Road.) He became the director of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad (O&A) and donated a right-of-way for the railroad through his property which locally became known as Burke’s Station. As the community grew up around a train station, the name Burke’s Station was formally adopted when the post office was built in 1852. In 1903, the name of the community was shortened to Burke.
In the early 1900s Burke was seen to many in Washington, DC as a place to get out of the city and relax in the country. It was also known as a thriving village with agriculture, dairy farming, and lumbering as its chief industries. Around that time period, Henry Clay Copperthite purchased Woodbury and about 600 acres of surrounding farmland to create a dairy farm for his thriving pie business, the Connecticut-Copperthite Pie Company (also known as the Copperthite Pie Baking Company). In addition to his love of growing his successful business, Henry also loved pacing and trotting horses.
It was at the current site of Burke Nursery & Garden Centre that Henry decided to build one of the grandest racetracks in Virginia. The racetrack had stables that housed 75 horses, including those of President William McKinley Jr. and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. The grandstand held over 2,000 people and four hotels housed overnight guests. In addition to harness races, spectators could also enjoy motorcycle and car races, sporting events, picnics, and dances. Ty Cobb played an exhibition baseball game.
Today the racetrack is gone although some people say they can still see some of the tracks left behind. The throngs of people who would leave the heat of Washington, DC to enjoy the entertainment provided by the Copperthite Race Track are long passed into the memories of history. But the site lives on by providing families with the joys of new memories and entertainment. Burke Nursery & Garden Centre is a blaze of color with its offering of flowers, trees, and shrubs for the retail customer who want to increase the beauty of their own properties. Families create new memories each October when they attend the Annual Pumpkin Playground.
Join us in celebrating the past by attending the Historic Marker dedication ceremony on Sunday, July 31, 2016 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm here at Burke Nursery & Garden Centre.