Stafford geocaching game gives tour of our nation’s oldest stone quarry

Visitors got a look at Government Island Saturday as it is opened to the public for the first time in 2010. Sandstone from the Islands quarry was used in the construction of the White House and the U.S Capital. (Mary Davidson/

Stafford County now has a geocaching game that can be played on Government Island.

Earlier this year, Stafford County resident Joseph Neigh got approval from the county government to create a geocaching game known as an adventure lab that will take players through the county’s county’s historical landmarks.

Geocaching is typically a location-based treasure hunting game designed for players to find containers containing information about science, math, and history using a GPS and a cell phone to find hidden caches of data. Once found, players log in coordinates to prove having seen them.

The game is provided through, one of the most popular websites dedicated to the game. The location chosen for this game is Government Island Park, located just off Route 1 at 191 Coal Landing Road, which holds a quarry that was used to cut stone used in the White House construction, which is a popular tourist attraction.

When players log on to the website for the geocache search at Government Island, a message greets them.

“Welcome to Government Island! This adventure lab will take you on a rustic 1.6-mile hike to five fascinating areas showcasing Stafford County’s rich historical heritage and role in our nation’s building. Take a walk back in time and observe remnants of our nation’s oldest stone quarry. Take in the beautiful scenery and keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife surrounding the island. You might even discover Stafford Rocks left by others!”

There will be five different points of interest that will act as information markers that players will move through to find the caches. The trail will teach about the Quarry’s history and its roles during the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

The lab begins at a kiosk that will hold a question about why the island was purchased.

Another point of interest on the trail is a property border rock laid by a local stonemason named Robert Stewart, who bought property on the island before the U.S.Government purchased the whole island.

The game’s main attraction is the Quarry, which has another kiosk with a question about the lives of stonecutters and slaves that worked on the island.

Neigh, who uses the moniker of “Luv4VA” in his geocaching, gained interest in the activity back in 2009 after listening to the podcast “How Stuff Work.”

Neigh has described his experience in geocaching as an enriching recreational activity that allows him to explore new locations. Neigh had participated in creating multiple labs and has hidden 100 containers over the years, some of which were nominated for creativity awards by the Northern Virginia Geocaching Organization.

Among those labs, Neigh has several in Stafford County, two in West Virginia, and a few in Fredericksburg. Neigh’s latest geocaching takes players on a tour of Falmouth’s Historic buildings, including Union Church, the original Magistrate’s Office, the Moncure/Conway House on River Road, the Shelton House, and Chatham Manor.

The adventure lab on Government Island will be in operation from mid-March to October from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and from November to mid-March, it will also be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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