Provided by Prince William County
Dan Wotring’s mother, Pauline, used to call the Groveton Road Bridge that runs over Interstate 66 “the bridge from the city to the country.”
Pauline and her husband, Raymond, lived with their family off Groveton Road on about three acres bordered on two sides by the Manassas Battlefield National Park. The couple loved the battlefield and bequeathed their home to the Civil War Battlefield Trust to help preserve it. Because of their efforts, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors recently named the Groveton Road Bridge after the Wotrings.
Dan said having the Board name the bridge the “Wotring Memorial Bridge” is gratifying to the family. “The bridge has real significance for us… my mom always felt she was home when we crossed that bridge.”
Donating the land was always the plan for the Wotring family, he said. “My parents always said, ‘When we’re done with the land, when we’re done with people living here, we want it to go to the battlefield.'”
Ray Wotring, Pauline and Raymond’s grandson, was at a picnic recently with about 50 family members to celebrate the naming of the bridge. He said his family and others in the area fought some formidable opponents that wanted to take land in and around the battlefield to build condominiums, shopping centers and theme parks.
“There was quite the contingent that was really going to battle to protect the battlefield,” said Dan. As a child, he used to find Civil War artifacts on his parents’ property and hunted at a nearby farm that is now also a part of the battlefield.
Duffy Simonpietri, Pauline and Raymond’s daughter, said she grew up watching her parents fight to keep the battlefield intact. “The big drama with this battlefield happened when I was in high school, and so that was a big part of my high school experience. We were all just knee-deep into preserving this land.”
Simonpietri said she was happy at the naming of the bridge and she thinks her mother, a substitute teacher at several Prince William County Public Schools, and her father, a CIA executive, would have been pleased, too. “It’s really special because my parents did work really hard. For as long as I can remember, they were always so active in just being part of the Lions Club, the Scouts and things that happened in Prince William County. They would think this is so special. They would just be really proud to be acknowledged this way.”
Dan said he was glad the bridge now bears his family’s name. “We’re thankful to the board for recognizing our family. It means a lot. Prince William County is still our home.”
Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors Corey Stewart spoke at the gathering and recognized the contributions of the Wotrings and others. “There were a few citizens who really stood up and spent a lot of time to make sure that this important part – of not just Prince William County history, but American history – was preserved forever. For that, we owe a deep gratitude to the Wotring family.”