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For Sale: Private Potomac River Isle & All its History

An island with 400 years of recorded history is for sale on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

Chopwamsic Island, just off of Quantico Marine Corps Base, is listed for $15 million. It is billed as “The Most Unique and Intriguing Private Real Estate in the World.”

Chop Island, as it’s better known, is 13 acres large and has 4,300 feet of shoreline. It is just 1,000 yards from the hangar that holds the President’s helicopter, Marine One.

The island was visited by Captain John Smith in 1607, and the first non-native resident settled there in 1649. Its biggest claim to fame is that the first manned airplane flight almost happened there. Just nine days before the Wright Brothers’ famous flight in North Carolina, Samuel Langley attempted to launch a “heavier than air” manned aerodome from a houseboat next to Chop Island. It failed to fly, and the plane and pilot both had to be pulled from the Potomac. Langley had successfully tested unmanned flights near the island in the 1890s.

 Photo: NASA on The Commons, The Langley Aerodrome
Photo: NASA on The Commons, The Langley Aerodrome

Langley’s friend Alexander Graham Bell was a frequent visitor to the island, and witnessed the unmanned test flights. Past owners of the island include the National Geographic Society, and John Lennon reportedly considering buying it at one point.

The island features a main house, guest house, caretaker’s house, and other buildings. It has electricity via underwater cable, and a 280-foot-deep well for water on the island. But if you fork over the $15 million, don’t expect to move right in. The listing notes that all structures were “constructed prior to WWI and need extensive renovation.”

Click here to see the real estate listing for Chopwamsic Island.

-Meg Walburn Viviano