Native Americans populated the area surrounding the OccoquanRiver long before the first English settlers arrived. It was the Dogue tribe who gave the Occoquan its name, meaning “at the end of the water.” Like many other native Americans, the Dogues subsisted by fishing, hunting and cultivating corn and other vegetables. They also were hunters of migratory birds such as geese, swans and ducks. Then, suddenly, around the year 1681, the Dogue tribe disappeared.
The Occoquan forms by a junction of the Broad and Cedar Run at the western end of PrinceWilliamCounty. It feeds Lake Jackson and flows down to its first dam just east of Dumfries Road (Rte 234), where it continues its scenic journey approximately 13 miles before it merges with the Bull RunRiver to form the Occoquan Reservoir. Its shoreline alternate prosaically between river willows, marsh grasses, spectacular cliffs, and parklands harboring an abundance of wildlife and bird sanctuaries.
The Bull Run begins in LoudounCounty and flows for several miles to Manassas where it becomes a national historic benchmark. On July 21, 1861 the two great armies from the North and South clashed for the first time on the fields overlooking the Bull Run. This encounter left 900 dead and 3,800 missing and wounded. Thirteen months later, during the Second Battle, which lasted three days, 3,400 soldiers were killed and 20,000 missing and wounded. The Bull Run continues to flow south, receiving 22 million gallons of treated water a day from the Upper Occoquan Sewage Plant, before it merges into the Occoquan Reservoir. This Plant, which has been in operation for over twenty years, treats raw sewage and is the only one of its kind in the State of Virginia.
The 2,100-acre reservoir extends for about 15 miles to the intake of the Fairfax County Water Authority, which provides drinking water for a population of more than one million people. From there it flows through the historic town of Occoquan, on to Woodbridge, where it feeds into the Potomac River.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority operates six regional parks along the Occoquan and the Bull Run. The OccoquanRegionalPark, 400 acres of recreational space, with boat ramps and storage, fishing, walking trails, Marina building, etc. SandyRunRegionalPark, site of Olympic canoeing, site of national competitions for college and high school rowing crews, 2,000 meter race course, boathouse, etc. FountainheadRegionalPark, features include fishing, boat ramp, Jon boat and electric motor rentals, Marina building, etc. Bull Run Marina, operated by GeorgeMasonUniversity, offers fishing, boat ramps, rowboat and canoe rentals, Marina building, etc. HemlockOverlookRegionalPark is an outdoor learning center operated jointly by the Authority and GeorgeMasonUniversity. Bull RunRegionalPark spacious fields accommodate thousands for picnics, camping and special events. In addition to the Authority's parks there are some other community and private marinas. Fishing licenses are required and motors up to 10 hp are permitted. The Prince Williams County Park Authority owns and operates the Lake Ridge Golf and Marina Park.
As with any other roadway/waterway in the state, the Occoquan River is the recipient of an enormous amount of trash (see photo gallery ).Careless people dump automobile tires, pieces of furniture, stoves, refrigerators and oil barrels into a river that supports life and is the main source of drinking water for Northern Virginia.