The earliest record of the Dragon Run is by Captain John Smith in 1607. While on his way to meet with the Powhatan and Pocahontas, he crossed the stream and marked it on a map. Later, many settlers came from England to settle in Virginia. Some settled in the Dragon Run watershed, and descendants of those original settlers still own land there today.
The first time the area was noted as “Dragon Swamp” was in 1673 by cartographer Augustine Herman. It is believed that the Pamunkeys used the swamp as a hiding spot during Bacon's Rebellion. John Clayton (botanist) studied the area in 1773 and found over 800 species of native plant species and discovered 2 new species: Claytonia virginica and Osmunda claytoniana. The John Clayton Herbarium can still be found in London’s Natural History Museum, including plants from the Dragon Run.
More recently, brothers James V. Morgan and Harvey B. Morgan have taken a stand in preserving the watershed by organizing the Friends of the Dragon Run. Morgan took the lead in preservation by buying some of the land and building canoe trails for people to explore.
Many efforts have been put into place to preserve and protect the Dragon Run watershed. Under Governor Tim Kaine, Virginia and The Nature Conservancy purchased 4,188 acres (16.95 km2) of the Dragon Run in order to conserve it and protect its wildlife.
Friends of the Dragon Run are local citizens who donate money and time to help preserve the natural state of the swamp. They have purchased a 203-acre (0.82 km2) tract of the swampland and work to manage the area and its natural environment. Friends of the Dragon Run encourage the use of no-till farming, filter strips, reforestation, contour plowing, and sensitive timbering techniques in and around the Dragon Run.