About This Place
Burke is a census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. As of the 2000 census, Burke had a total population of 57,737. As of the 2010 census, it had shrunken to 41,055, mainly because much of it was broken off to form Burke Centre CDP.
The area of Fairfax County known as Burke is named for Silas Burke (1796–1854), a 19th century farmer, merchant, and local politician who built a house on a hill overlooking the valley of Pohick Creek in approximately 1824. The house is still standing. When the Orange and Alexandria Railroad was constructed in the late 1840s, the railroad station at the base of that hill was named Burke's Station after Burke, who owned the land in the area and donated a right-of-way to the railroad company. The community that grew up around the railroad station acquired a post office branch in 1852. Currently, railroad tracks on the same historical line are owned by the Norfolk Southern Railway and form part of the Manassas line of the Virginia Railway Express commuter rail system, of which two stations lie in the Burke area.
During the American Civil War, the railway station was garrisoned by Union troops. On December 28, 1862, Confederate cavalry under General J.E.B. Stuart raided the station. Stuart seized supplies from the area, destroyed a nearby bridge, monitored Union messages passing over the telegraph lines, and then famously sent a telegram to Union Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs complaining of the poor quality of the mules he had captured.