It may not have been a battle, but – seeing as how it was my second attempt at getting a good look at Bull Run Creek – coupled with the fact that I’m a native Northerner – I felt a bit skittish as I headed down that little dirt road to encounter the unknown. See – I’d looked as closely as I could at my computer mapping for the end of the line on Peach Tree Lane – way down on the Southern border of Loudoun County – and it looked as if the narrow gravel corridor just sort of dead-ended at the water line; driving to the spot that day, as I recognized some of the landmarks that signaled I was getting close, I slowed down to a crawl, and, as I rounded the last corner, my suspicions were confirmed: I’d found Bull Run Creek, alright – and I’d also found another location in our gnarly little locality where a roadway travels underwater.
Yep, I’d guess that the rocky bottom lay about a foot or foot and a half under the surface of the little waterway; I could have been wrong, though – maybe it was three feet at the deepest – and I wasn’t going to try to ford the 20 or 30 foot span with my vehicle – at least not unless somebody had a hefty check waiting for me on the other side. I did – however – take the opportunity to walk the few feet to the water’s edge, listen to the friendly little gurgle as the liquid slipped over the exposed roots, rocks and fallen branches, and imagine my way along as the famous little Creek made its way Southeastward – where – in just a few miles – it would join up with its historically important Sister – Little Bull Run – which skirts the edges of Manassas National Battlefield Park.
The morning of my visit was quite pleasant: Cool and quiet, with a bit of mist on the surface of the Creek as the dawn started turning on the lights and waking up the neighborhood. I could hear the rattle of kingfishers as they waited for enough light to catch their breakfast, and a drowsy blue heron hoisted its stilt-like legs out of the water and navigated its way downstream. No busy commuters, however, followed my journey to the Creekside to judge the depth and current before making a run for the other side; I do reckon, though, that some of the ‘natives’ in their semi-domesticated ‘monster trucks’ make this crossing all the time – except, maybe, just after a visit from some tropical-storm remnant passing up the East Coast.
For my part, I – perhaps a bit ingloriously – beat my not-so-hasty retreat by backing out along the narrow stretch of Peach Tree Lane to the nearest driveway, turned around and returned to more civilized surroundings. I did, however, make another approach to Bull Run: In a right-hand sweeping drive that could have (in my dreams) made ol’ Stonewall Jackson proud, I actually crossed the little waterway a bit further downstream – by way of the one-lane bridge along Route 705 – better known as Lightridge Farm Road. This truly is a narrow span, and the traffic tends to move along here at a pretty good clip, so it’s not the best place stop and enjoy the scenery, but you do get a good glimpse at the little Creek – as it continues to the Southeast – to eventually cross Gum Spring Road – before leaving Loudoun’s border and joining her more famous sister.
And that’s where I’d tried to get a look at Bull Run in the first place – a couple of years back – along Route 659 – right about at the Southeastern tip of the County; my journey turned up little more, though, than busy commuter traffic, construction projects, abandoned properties, and all the other fruits of a genuine ‘snipe hunt.’ So – my second attempt at Bull Run – however anti-climactic, anti-heroic and undramatic – at least lacked the defeat, disorganization, tragedy and embarrassment of the two campaigns waged here some one hundred 60 years back by quite a number of my fellow Northerners. God rest their souls – and those of their at-that–time adversaries.
Bull Run Creek and her sibling – Little Bull Run – these days – run quiet and peaceful – and may this always be the case.