Chapman State Park

Historical signage about Chapman's LandingHistory

For several thousand years before the arrival of Europeans, American Indians inhabited the area that is now Chapman State Park. In 1608, Captain John Smith passed here on his exploration of the Potomac River. During his riparian voyage, various tribal settlements were identified and maps of the area dated 1673 still showed Native American longhouses where Chapman State Park is now.

However, by 1750, with plantations becoming increasingly common along the Potomac River, Nathaniel Chapman acquired this land, then known as Grimes Ditch. Nathaniel Chapman was a prominent colonial businessman.

He was also a friend and business associate of both the American patriot and Founding Father George Mason and Augustine Washington, father of George Washington. The 165 years that followed the Chapman acquisition of Grimes Ditch brought an engaging history that included a tidewater plantation, a large and lucrative shad and herring fishery, the construction of the family’s Mt. Aventine manor, the gripping drama of the Civil War, a post-war farm, a Hungarian horse farm and eventually the creation of Chapman State Park.​