The Quantico VRE Station, located at 550 Railroad Avenue in the historic town of Quantico, Virginia, is the fifth stop on the Fredericksburg line after Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, Leeland, and Brooke. The station was originally built by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac railroad in 1953, and was totally renovated by VRE and re-opened in April of 2005.
The original waiting room has been transformed into a railroad museum of sorts, with walls covered by framed newspaper articles, photos, posters and memorabilia depicting the rich history of the town, the railroad and the Marines. The area now known as Quantico (which means “by large stream”) was first inhabited by Native Americans. In 1608 John Smith mapped an area called “Patawomek” and noted with surprise that the Iroquois and some Dogue Indians of the Algonquin Tribe lived there in harmony. Quantico was first visited by European explorers in the summer of 1608. Later in the year, land owners started appearing. After the turn of the century, the area became popular because of tobacco trade in Aquia Harbor. The Quantico Road was opened in 1731, allowing vital access to and from the western part of the state. By 1759 the road stretched across the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley.
The first military presence came during the revolutionary war, when the Quantico Creek village became a main naval base for the Commonwealth of Virginia's 72 vessel fleet on which many Virginia state militia served. The area was first visited by the Marine Corps in 1816 when a group of Marines traveling by ship to Washington was halted by ice in the Potomac, forcing them to debark and march to the town of Dumfries. Here, they met a young captain, Archibald Henderson, who lived close by. Being a generous man, he hired a wagon for them and sent them on their way. During the Civil War, control of the Potomac River became very important to both armies. The Confederates picked the Quantico Creek area on the Potomac to set up their gun batteries. Their artillery could reach anything on the water, thus deterring the Unions' use of the water highway. While battles took place in Manassas and Fredericksburg, the gun positions around Quantico were used until the end of the war.
Following the war, railroads became a more integral part of transportation. In 1872, the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad was formed when several railroads north and south met at Quantico Creek.
The surrounding village known as Quantico was built by The Quantico Company. This was the start of a thriving tourist and fishing town. A large hotel was built, the beach was cleaned and one street was finished complete with sewers. A dance pavilion was set up with a merry-go-round and small lots were offered for sale. By the summer of 1916, the steamer St. Johns and the train brought more than 2,500 “fun-seekers” each week to the site from Washington and Richmond. The same year, railroad side tracks were extended to the shipping point on Quantico Creek. The Quantico shipyard started up with plans to build ocean freighters and tankers.
Soon, the U.S. entered World War I and the company obtained U.S. Navy contracts to build three wooden ships. In 1917, Marine Corps commander Major General George Barnett was desperate to find a suitable area large enough to train at least 7,000 Marines. By then the Quantico Company was in financial trouble and agreed to lease 5,300 acres surrounding the town of Quantico to the U.S. government for the base which became nicknamed “slippery mud” because of the knee-deep, red, gumbo-like mud which often bogged down ox-carts and wagons. The hotel became the officers quarters later named Walter Hall. Temporary tents and crude wooden barracks were built and some slept in the dance pavilion. By August, enough barracks were built along with a hospital capable of housing 100 patients. Brig. General John A. Lejeune took command of the base in September when the first battalion which had been training since July sailed aboard the USS Henderson for France. During the rush to provide housing, hundreds of skilled workers were needed. Many workers were employed and lived and worked in the town. Many of the descendants of those workers still have businesses there today.
The town was officially incorporated in 1927 and received their charter in 1934. Today, the station serves both Amtrak and VRE trains. The waiting room is open week days from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. & 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. VRE tickets are available for sale from the kiosk vendor located inside the station.