The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted February 15, 2022, to change the name of two county-owned recreational facilities in eastern Loudoun: Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park has been renamed as Bazil Newman Riverfront Park and Kephart Bridge Landing—a trailhead and canoe and kayak launch facility located within the park—has been renamed as Riverpoint Drive Trailhead.
Renaming the park and trailhead are among several projects, including the renaming of Route 7 and Route 50, that have resulted from the Board’s September 2020 decision to inventory and review Confederate and segregationist symbols in the county. Since the review was completed in July 2021, the Board has approved measures to address, change or prohibit the current and future naming of county roads after Confederate or segregationist figures, symbols or slogans.
The Board chose to rename the park and landing after county staff researched the origins of the two facilities’ names. Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park referenced nearby grist mills named for Elizabeth Clapham, the wife of local landowner and slaveholder Samuel Clapham. After his death, those he had enslaved were held by Elizabeth. Kephart Bridge Landing was named after slave trader George Kephart, who owned land along Goose Creek crucial to his business of transporting the enslaved from port to port.
The majority of the Board of Supervisors opted to name the park after Bazil Newman, a free Black man who owned and operated a ferry and warehouse service in the early to mid-1800s at the place close to where Goose Creek meets the Potomac River. He was one of the few free Black entrepreneurs in the area at the time and was successful and well-regarded.
“I recognize that some members of the Board did not want to name a county facility after a person,” said Sterling District Supervisor and Board Vice Chair Koran T. Saines. “However, I asked the Board to consider honoring Bazil Newman in this way because as a man who was able to thrive during a time of oppression, who demonstrated great courage, and who as an early member of our community contributed significantly to Loudoun County, he is exactly the type of person who is worthy of memorializing, particularly at this location.”
The Board of Supervisors adopted the recommendation of the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Board to rename the landing within the park as Riverpoint Drive Trailhead, which recognizes the facility’s location and more accurately names it as a trailhead.
The cost of changing signage at the park and trailhead is approximately $4,000. The new signage is being fabricated and will be installed soon.
The Board of Supervisors also directed the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services to collaborate with the Loudoun Freedom Center to develop and install an interpretive display at the park that recognizes the history of enslaved people at the site.
More information about the Board’s initiative is available on the Inventory of Confederate & Segregationist Symbols webpage.
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