Potomac River - "The Nation's River"
The Potomac River runs 383 miles from the West Virginia-Maryland border to the Chesapeake Bay south of Washington DC. Some of the major cities along the river include Harper's Ferry, WV, Washington, DC, Arlington, VA, and Alexandria, VA. The river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D.C. to the north and West Virginia and Virginia to the south. At the mouth of the Potomac, the river is 11 miles wide, between Point Lookout, Maryland and Smith Point, Virginia.
Numerous famous Americans were born and lived along the Potomac. Two of the most famous are George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Of course, every President and Congressman has also resided along the river while serving in Washington DC!
Various methods have been used to navigate the river. The Patowmack Canal was envisioned and partially funded by George Washington to connect the area Georgetown with Cumberland, Maryland. Started in 1785, its five short canals were not completed until 1802, and they ceased operations in 1830. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal operated along the opposite bank of the Potomac in Maryland from 1850 to 1924 and it also connected Cumberland to Washington, D.C.
Today numerous parks line the Potomac. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park runs is 184.5 miles along the north side of the river. Also in Maryland, south of DC, you will find Oxon Hill Farm, Fort Foot National Park, Fort Washington Park, Piscataway National Park, and Point Lookout State Park. In Washington DC you will find Georgetown Waterfront Park, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Lady Bird Johnson Park, West Potomac Park, and East Potomac Park including Hains Point. In Virginia, you'll find Harpers Ferry National Park, Balls Bluff Battlefield, Great Falls Park, Jones Point Park, Fort Hunt National Park, Mount Vernon, Leesylvania State Park, and George Washington's Birthplace National Park.
Packing for a Weekend Away
Most of our trips to the area are weekend road trips so a small rollaboard or overnight bad will suffice. We pack according the season and weather forecasts. Winter can be frigid so plenty of warm clothing and layers are a must. In the summer months when temperatures and humidity soar; we pack light, breathable clothing. Comfortable walking shoes are always a must. We always pack umbrellas; just in case of rain. Shampoo, Hair gel, Razor, shaving cream, contacts, glasses, deodorant, toothpaste, aspirin, cologne, brush and body wash. Digital camera, charger, memory card reader and video camera Laptop
Arlington is the next city over from Alexandria. Arlington is most famous for its National Cemetery and it is where the Pentagon was located. There are also ample shopping, dining and nightlife opportunities.
DC Boundary Stones in Alexandria
Washington DC was first surveyed in 1791 and 1792 by Andrew Ellicott. The city was partly in Maryland and partly in Virginia in a square shape 10 miles on each side. Each side of the square was marked by 10 boundary stones for a total of 40 stones around the city. The first stone was placed at Jones Point in Alexandria, VA.
In 1915 the Daughters of the American Revolution protected the boundary stones by placing a fence around each and performing routine maintenance.
Today 37 of the original boundary stones survive. 14 of the original stone locations are in the state of Virginia, in the city of Alexandria or Arlington County since this part of DC was retroceeded back to Virginia prior to the Civil War.
The Alexandria boundary stones are located at Jones Point, next to the Alexandria National Cemetery, on Russell Road, and and three along King Street.
I have visited the following boundary stones in Alexandria:
The South Boundary Stone at Jones Point lies in the seawall next to the lighthouse. The stone is only visible through a small hole cut into the stone, and it is marked by a small plaque. If you cross the small white picket fence, you can lean over for a better view or photo. This is the first boundary stone of Washignton DC and was placed in 1791. It was replaced in 1794, and this second stone remains today.
Southwest Number 1 stone sits enclosed in a large black iron cage behind a white picket fence in an older residential community right at the corner of Wilkes and Payne Streets. Today it sits several hundred feet from its original position, and it has been turned.
The stone called Southwest Number 2 was the third stone placed back in 1791. It stands behind a small iron fence on the east side of Russell Road just north of King Street. The original stone stood about a third of a mile northwest of this site, but has long since been lost. The Duaghters of the American Revolution replaced this stone in 1920, but I'm not sure why they put it so far from the original.
Shiloh Baptist Church
Shiloh Baptist Church was founded in 1863 as the fourth of Alexandria's black churches. It is said the church began here, just half a block from the old "Price & Birch's" slave prison, because the slave yards were later used to house freed slaves, and local leaders organized them into a church. After meeting in temporary locations fro two years, their first church was constructed nearby in 1865. In 1891 construction on the current church began, to be completed in 1893 at a cost of just $8,000.