Motorists zooming along I-95 may not know it, but the Prince William County town of Dumfries boasts a museum with a collection of Revolutionary- and Civil War-era relics, as well as memorabilia from two of the county's more famous figures.
Only trouble is, say members of the local historical society, sightseers using the interstate have no idea that Dumfries is such a haven for history.
So Daniel G. King, a Town Council member active in the historical group, wants the town to spend at least $3,000 to erect six signs inviting motorists to visit Dumfries and its Weems-Botts Museum off Rte. 1.
"The expense is cheap compared to the extra revenue we could bring in," said King, who attributed several recent business failures to a shortage of tourists through the town.
The state highway department has approved the plan. If the Town Council allocates the money, the state will install the signs at Dumfries' expense, officials said.
Pamela McBride, a museum worker whose husband heads the historical society, said the signs "would get the people into Dumfries and into the museum." The museum building itself is an antique; the original section was built in 1790.
The 18th-century collection came largely from Parson Mason Locke Weems, the first biographer of George Washington and the author of the famous, if not entirely accurate, cherry tree story. The museum's 19th-century furnishings are from Benjamin Potts, a renowned lawyer who was part of the legal team that defended Aaron Burr at his treason trial.
McBride said the museum is especially proud of two recent acquisitions: local documents dating from 1747, two years before the town was chartered by the Virginia House of Burgesses, and 1795.