Craig Day, a 17-year-old senior at Falls Church High School, spent his spring weekends visiting colleges, competing in track meets with the shot put, becoming co-holder of his school's most valuable track man trophy, and working part-time at the Thomas Jefferson library.
He has also spent a lot of time concerned with a bit of land he first explored as an 11-year-old.
His decision to major in archaeology or environment sciences really began forming when "I was in the sixth grade, and Gary Ward and I were killing time over Christmas vacation."
The boys lived in Fairfax County on the edge of the 293-acre Tract B of the huge 621-acre Chiles Tract, bounded by Route 50, Gallows Road, and Loehmann's Plaza, with the woods of the Holmes Run watershed as a back yard full of 20th century dumping and the "plantation."
The youngsters called an area with stone and brick ruins in the tract a "plantation," which, Day later discovered through research was the remnants of farm buildings of the 19th century Dulin family.
Using metal detectors, the boys roamed through the woods hunting for coins and other objects.
"We got a lot of poision ivy, but we also found what appeared to be foundations of buildings and an old well. Everything was so overgrown, and folks kept dumping junk and trash everywhere."
In his freshman year Day prepared a paper on the Chiles Tract, specifically Subtract B-5, almost parallel to the Falls Church High School baseball field. The subtract was about 60 acres with the Holmes Run, stream dividing the tract in a north-south fashion. The paper was an outside project in World History for teacher Steve Wilcox, who graded it with an "A."
Day researched the story of the Dulins beginning in 1952 and established that the family had lived on the tract. He noted that the well "still works, although the purity of the water is in doubt." He discovered a spring that had been permanently stoned in with the water directed to Holmes Run by a wooden channeling structure. He researched the rubble to establish that there had been a bank barn and that the foundations of the main struction were of cut, unmortared stone. He had located foundations for at least five buildings.
That same year, 1973, the Chiles Tract came up for rezoning. At the urging of Wilcox, Day appeared before the Board of Supervisors to appeal for historic and environmental preservation of the Subtract B-5 of the Chiles Tract. Wilcox says of Day, "He's a young man with great perseverance."
By the time Day was a junior, he was immersed in the history of the Subtract B-5 with the zeal of a Dr. Louis Leakey in Africa. He had prepared a detailed history of the site, with indepth research of the Dulin family through archives, books and libraries.
At home, the younger son of Mrs. J. W. Day had carefully recorded his collection of artifacts and lovingly stored them in boxes. His records show 1,634 coins recovered with the oldest coin being an 1881 penny he found last month.
"I count the value of them at $61.96," Day says as he checks his notebook.
His detailed study has been sent to the Fairfax County Historical Society for a contest on historical papers. "I hope it makes it to publication," Day says.
In June 1975 an 84-member Route 50/I-495 Area Task Force was created by the Board of Supervisors of community representatives, business interests, landowners - and Craig Day. At his request, on referral from the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, in November, 1976, Martha Williams did an archaeological survey, with an added survey in December and March 1977.
In April the results of the Task Force were published. The recommendations are that further investigation is warranted since the site represents one of the few remaining historic sites of early 19th century vintage in the Falls Church area. Its excavation could reveal the lifestyle of the average farmer in Northern Virginia during the 19th century, and its architectural features of stone and brick construction appear to be unusual. The Task Force report also recommended that a person skilled in prehistoric sites and artifacts conduct a survey in the vicinity of Holmes Run.
It is certain that Craig Day, who will attend Virginia Tech and State University in Blacksburg in September, will follow the zoning of the Chiles Tract in Fairfax County with more than casual interest.