Stoney Lonesome Cemetery – Lorton, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

Stoney Lonesome Cemetery

A small, forgotten prison cemetery marked only by a wrought-iron fence and eerie depressions left in the ground. 

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This old cemetery sits tucked away behind a black wrought-iron fence in a grove of cedar trees across from the former workhouse prison complex.

With the establishment of the Lorton Reformatory (also known as the Lorton/D.C. Workhouse Prison Complex) in 1910, a small patch of land was set aside for the burial of male and female inmates who died while imprisoned at the complex and had no friends or next-of-kin to oversee a proper burial. Some of the earliest burials are believed to be men who succumbed to disease, fatal injuries, drowning (those who worked at the brick kilns located near the dock area), and even the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

The graves were typically hand-dug in a day and laid out in north-south rows. The digging was usually done by a single inmate or another trusted patron of the prison. The inmates were buried in coffins that were merely a pine box that had been fashioned within the prison’s carpenter shop. Burial ceremonies were attended by fellow incarcerated friends and overseen by a local clergyman, while later burials would be led by the prison’s personal chaplain.

It is estimated that somewhere between 50 to 100 inmates are buried beneath the small plot of land, with the last burial taking place sometime in the 1960s. All records regarding the prisoners who were laid to rest there have long been lost, and today all that remains on the site is a black wrought-iron fence surrounding the area, a small pile of bricks, depressions in the ground, and a few cement slabs.

Know Before You Go

The cemetery is on the grounds of Fairfax County Water Authority. If you plan to visit, Fairfax Water notes:


"Fairfax Water is responsible for the continued maintenance of the small, Stoney Lonesome Cemetery. This includes periodic mowing, tree maintenance, and as-needed fence repair.

Respectful, non-invasive visits during normal business hours Monday-Friday 8:00 am-4:30 pm are fine and will not require a Fairfax Water escort. The site is alternatively patrolled by Fairfax Water security and Fairfax County Police. As such, please contact Fairfax Water with your expected time of arrival and your departure so that we can alert security.

Please note that there are no signs, placards, or other information at the site. Check the Workhouse Museum for information. Please be careful and watch your step as tree roots, markers, and soil settling make for uneven footing.

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