The area of Fairfax County known as Burke is named for Silas Burke (1796—1854), a 19th century farmer, merchant, and local politician who built a house (which is still standing) on a hill overlooking the valley of Pohick Creek in approximately 1824. When the Orange and Alexandria Railroad was constructed in the late 1840s, the railroad station at the base of that hill was named Burke's Station after Burke, who owned the land in the area and donated a right-of-way to the railroad company. In 1851, The Orange & Alexandria Railroad reached Burke and Manassas (then called “Tudor Hall”). The original Burke Station dates from that period. In the following years, as rail service expanded and connected to the entire nation, Burke Station became a Regional Transit Center where passengers and goods could be exchanged. The height of rail service reached a peak in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The community that grew up around the railroad station acquired a post office branch in 1852. During the American Civil War, the railway station was garrisoned by Union troops. On December 28, 1862, Confederate cavalry under General J.E.B. Stuart raided the station. Stuart seized supplies from the area, destroyed a nearby bridge, monitored Union messages passing over the telegraph lines, and then famously sent a telegram to Union Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs complaining of the poor quality of the mules he had captured. In 1903, the name of the post office was changed from Burke's Station to "Burke."
The area remained predominantly rural well into the mid-20th century. After World War I, some employees of the Federal Government began moving into the area, and commuted to Washington, D.C. by train.
The popularity of the personal automobile, the effects of the Great Depression, and the completion of the Interstate Highway System contributed to the decline of railroads. Therefore, the station was used less and less until, after 116 years of service, passenger trains ceased to stop at Burke in 1967.
The first large subdivision in the vicinity, Kings Park, was constructed beginning in 1960, and was followed by many others over the next two decades, converting Burke into a densely populated suburban community. Currently, railroad tracks on the same historical line are owned by the Norfolk Southern Railway.
In June 1992, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) started service at 10 stations, including the Burke Centre Station, along the Washington DC — Manassas Airport Corridor. In 2008, VRE opened its 1500 space structured parking garage, VRE's largest, providing ample parking for current and future needs.