Amos Janney, a Pennsylvania Quaker, settled on the south fork of Catoctin Creek around 1733. Other Quakers soon followed drawn by the fertile land. Most were grain farmers, making a mill an early priority. By the early 1740s, Janney had built a simple grist and sawmill on the creek opposite this site. A settlement grew up and was named Waterford in the 1780s. By then Scotch-Irish Presbyterians and German Lutherans had joined the Quakers, as had a few African-Americans, some enslaved but most free.
The rich soil and well-managed farms brought growth and prosperity to the Waterford area until the devastation of the Civil War. Pacifist Quakers and many like-minded neighbors remained loyal to the Union and endured repeated Confederate harassment. When rebels stripped the mill of grain and flour, owner Samuel Means raised a cavalry unit - The Loudoun Rangers - to fight for the Union. Waterford never fully recovered from the economic and social damage of the war. It steadily declined as the commercial hub for area farms.
Finally after the Great Depression of the 1930s, new life began to stur. Waterford's rural setting and historic character attracted newcommers from the expanding Washington area. People with vision began to restore dilapidated structures and preserve the old fabric of the community. In 1970 Waterford and surrounding farm land were designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.