Moving to Lorton VA
Please do not pick up prisoners re-enactment
Welcome to Lorton, Virginia. For many years, when you said Lorton, Virginia, you either thought “Prison” or “Auto Train to Disney World.”
Lorton, Virginia is in the southernmost part of Fairfax County. It spans the east and west sides of 95 which runs north-south through Lorton. Pohick Road is the northern boundary and the Occoquan River is the southern boundary. The other side of the Occoquan River is Prince William County.
The VRE, Virginia Railway Express, runs through Lorton with the Fredericksburg Line. With the southernmost stop in Spotsylvania, the VRE runs north through Alexandria, Crystal City and crosses into DC. The DC stops include L’Enfant Plaza and the last stop at Union Station, where you can get the metro to other points within DC.
Route 1 is where a lot of commercial development is, and east of Route 1 it has an industrial feel. Lots of warehouses, trucking companies, landscaping / hardscaping supply stores.
Old Town Occoquan is in Woodbridge to the south and Springfield and Fort Belvoir is just to the north.
Fun Fact: Skipped it for the easy pass lanes, Lorton didn’t get an exit, so you have to take Backlick Road to get off. And you’ll need this information because the traffic here is tough. This stretch of 95 is one of the most congested roads we have in the DMV.
Lorton’s history is wrapped up in two words: Prison. Train.
When President Teddy Roosevelt deemed the DC Prison unsanitary and overcrowded, Congress approved the purchase of the land north of the Occoquan River that became the Correctional Complex. The goal was to become an agricultural work camp, with prisoners running the dairy, sawmill, blacksmith shop, pastures, poultry farm, hog ranch, slaughterhouse and orchard and cannery.
The Lorton Reformatory was in existence from 1910 to 2001. Prisoners of note included 168 women from the suffrage movement in 1917, Norman Mailer and Chuck Brown.
The prison closed in 2001, but we’re going to hear about it again, hold on a second.
In 1971, the privately owned Auto Train Corporation began transporting travelers to Orlando, with the ability to load their car on to the train. In 1981, Amtrak took over the Auto Train and they run it to present day. Melissa’s family took the original Auto Train in the late 1970’s on the way to Florida. Michael’s family did the same in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
The real estate in Lorton is fairly uniform – you will see lots of townhouse communities here. People generally move here for convenience to major transportation and for Fairfax County Schools.
Single family homes start in the $500,000’s to $600,000’s and go into the low to mid $1M’s. The lower price points are split levels, ranch homes, ramblers or colonials. In the $1M – $1.5M range, you have a lot of colonials and craftsman homes, and many estates on the water.
There are a few dozen neighborhoods in Lorton and most are part of planned communities. Lorton Valley is a community of 532 homes, with 30 townhomes just approved to be annexed into the community.
Mason Neck is to the east, a peninsula on the coast with wetlands and more rural properties. Laurel Highlands is off Silverbrook Road just west of 95 and the VRE.
There are townhomes in Gunston Commons and a 55+ community in Lorton as well. Crosspointe is a large neighborhood with single family homes and townhomes built mostly in the 90’s.
Newington Forest is off South Run Road between Pohick Road and Silverbrook Road.
If you want new luxury homes and condos, guess where we’re going. To the Lorton Prison! They made it into a residential community, now with the name Laurel Hill.
I have clients bought a townhome in the prison complex. When they first told me I thought they were kidding. They weren’t. Every time we got in the car, I kicked on some Johnny Cash Folsom Prison and took us down 95. The first night in their house, they pulled a body out of the stormwater retention pond. The second night a car burst into flames outside their house. I still think the place is haunted.
When people posted pictures of the prison on Instagram, I recall reading a comment that said, “Only white people would think it’s cool to live in an old prison.”
Lorton has a Sunday Farmer’s Market by the VRE station in the Lorton Station Retail Area. There are also a handful of restaurants here like Casa Tequila and Hometown Grill & Bar.
The Lorton Marketplace Shopping Center has an Amazon Fresh and there are some fast casual restaurants here as well.
Lidl is also coming to the Lorton Prison complex’s Liberty Market! There is also a brewery/restaurant slated for the Liberty Market complex as well. This will bring a much needed grocery, food and dining complex to the Silverbrook Rd area of Lorton.
Just a couple miles north you also have Wegmans and Costco in Springfield. This Wegmans is amazing!
Pho Chateau off Route 1 is one of Michael’s favorite places to eat in Lorton.
On the Northwestern side of Lorton there’s a shopping area with a Giant Grocery Store and several restaurants like Squisito Pizza and Pasta, Lotus Pho and Fuse Box which is Asian Fusion.
Fun Fact: Five Guys Burgers & Fries has their headquarters in Lorton
You have a straight shot to Disney from here, just pop your car on to the Auto Train and off you go, 855 miles, to Orlando! Looking for a little fun closer to home?
Occoquan Regional Park is at the south end of Lorton, right on the Occoquan River. There are paved trails, soccer and baseball fields as well as volleyball courts.
Laurel Hill Park is in the middle of Lorton, just south of Lorton Road. There are several areas to this park including a golf course, mountain biking trails
There’s also the Workhouse Arts Center. This is a 55 acre area of land that was once part of the Lorton Reformatory (Prison.) There are 11 buildings which contain galleries, dance studios, artists studios, music rooms, event spaces and a small theatre. They offer over 300 arts education classes in various disciplines.
Pohick Bay Regional Park is huge and there is a ton to do. You can camp overnight, there’s a boat launch and you can kayak or paddleboard on the bay, play mini golf, play disc golf, there’s a water park, equestrian trails, fishing, hiking, picnicking or play golf on their gorgeous 18 hole course.
Mason Neck State Park offers camping, hiking, biking, fishing and boating.
Alpine X indoor ski is still a potential plan for Lorton. There are still negotiations happening but it remains to be seen if this huge indoor ski facility will come to the Lorton landfill.
If you own a boat, Captain John Beach Marina is highly rated and is a longstanding, family owned marina and is perfectly placed for an outing on the water.
Almost 28% of the people in Lorton are under 18.
There are five elementary schools in Lorton and they all go to 6th grade. They are Gunston, Lorton Station, Halley, Laurel Hill, and Silverbrook Elementary Schools. Silverbrook is actually just outside the Lorton limits, in Fairfax Station. The scores there and at Laurel Hill are 8’s, and the other elementary schools score more middle of the road.
South County Middle School serves grades 7-8 gets a score of a 7 on Great Schools. South County High School is at a 6 on Great Schools.
South County High School has an AP program as well as an honors program.
Like many Fairfax County High Schools, South County High School has a separate website for their sports program. The sports include Football, Baseball, Golf, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Volleyball, Basketball, Gymnastics, Track, Swimming, Wrestling, Soccer, Lacrosse, Crew, Tennis and Competitive Cheer – which we don’t see in a lot of school programs here. Closer in to the city, those wanting to participate in Competitive Cheer typically have to join an outside organization.
In Virginia, there is also the very competitive Governor’s Program where 10th and 11th graders can participate in a summer program in Visual / Performing Arts, Humanties, Math, Science, Technology, Agriculture, Heath & Science Medicine and mentorships in Engineering or Marine Sciences. You can channel your young George Costanza and become a Marine Biologist.
There are plenty of parks with playgrounds for the littles – Lorton Station has a gated playground behind the Community Center.
We talked about Pohick Bay Regional Park earlier, which has tons of fun for all ages. Don’t forget there’s the Pirate’s Cove Waterpark here, mini golf and a playground here too for the kiddos.
Gunston Animal Hospital is a highly rated veterinarian on Route 1. In North Lorton there’s an Industrial park with a few doggie businesses. There’s the Backyard Pack Dog Daycare which is well rated, and Pet de Lite Grooming.
There’s also the Bark Park Dog Park in the Laurel Highlands neighborhood.
I hope this gave you a good idea of what life is like in Lorton. Easy to bypass and not just because of those pesky express lanes that don’t stop in Lorton, but because it’s not as built up as some other areas in the DMV. But housing is affordable, comparatively speaking, and the schools in Fairfax County are excellent.