Arlington Off The Beaten Path

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by GentleSpirit
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by GentleSpirit
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by GentleSpirit

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Arlington

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    Admiral Richard Byrd

    by GentleSpirit Written May 24, 2013

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    When you come out of the subway at Arlington you head up Memorial Drive, you will pass some monuments before you get into the Cemetery proper.

    Admiral Richard Byrd (1888-1957) was a member of a prominent Virginia planter family. Members of his family had been active in colonial politics and one had even served as governor.

    Byrd graduated the US Naval Academy in 1912. Though he was medically retired in 1916 he continued to serve in the Navy in several assignments. He is best known for being a polar explorer. A distinguished aviator, he is credited with flying over the North Pole in 1926, though there is some dispute about that based on the exact location of the Pole.
    He later led 4 expeditions to Antarctica, the last one being in 1955-6.

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    101st Airborne Division Memorial

    by GentleSpirit Written Apr 15, 2013

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    The 101st Airborne Division, also known as the Screaming Eagles, has a memorial on Memorial Drive, just outside the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. Technically, memorials on this street are overseen by the Department of the Interior.

    The Screaming Eagles, based in Ft Campbell, Kentucky are one of the most decorated units. They served on D-day in World War II, The Battle of the Bulge, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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    Map of Arlington Cemetery

    by GentleSpirit Written Nov 23, 2012

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    this is a printable Map of Arlington Cemetery.
    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/docs/ANC_Map.pdf

    There is now a smartphone app that will help you find graves and give you the highlights of the cemetery. New releases are expected to include more detailed practical information
    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Map/ANCExplorer.aspx

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    The Netherlands Carillon

    by zanzooni Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Dedicated to the Voices still unheard

    The Netherlands Carillon is located on the Virginia shore of the Potomac River opposite Washington, D.C. and bordering the northern end of Arlington National Cemetery, adjacent to The United States Marine Corps War Memorial .
    Carillon concerts are presented by outstanding carillonneurs on Saturdays and national holidays from May through September. Concerts are 2-4 p.m. in May and September and 6-8 p.m. in June, July, and August. During concerts, visitors are welcome to climb the tower to watch the carillonneur perform and view the city of Washington and other surrounding features.

    According to the National State and Parks Recreation team:

    Persons with cardiac or respiratory conditions should use caution when climbing the tower. Small children should be closely supervised by an adult.

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    Belvior Mansion & Gravesite, Fort Belvoir

    by Ewingjr98 Written Feb 7, 2010
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    After George Washington moved to Mount Vernon, his closest neighbor, both in distance and friendship, was Colonel William Fairfax, who built and resided at Belvoir Plantation on a bluff overlooking the Potomac. William Fairfax was the grandson of the 4th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and his bother Thomas was the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron.

    William Fairfax first lived in the Colonies in Marblehead, Massachusetts, but he moved to Virginia in the 1730s to oversee his bother Thomas' vast quantities of land. In 1741 William Fairfax construct Belvoir Plantation, an elegant mansion with splendid views of the River and into Maryland. William Fairfax had a tremendous political career, serving in such positions as President of the Governor's Council in Williamsburg, member of the House of Burgesses, Justice of the County Court, and as County Lieutenant.

    William's bother, Thomas Fairfax, the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, lived at Belvoir for a few years before he moved to the Winchester, Virginia area. He was the first member of British nobility to live in America, and he employed George Washington as a surveyor of his lands.

    During the American Revolution the mansion was confiscated by the fledgling American government. In 1783, fire destroyed much of the mansion and its surrounding buildings. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion ruins were further damaged when bombarded by the British fleet that was part of the force that captured Washington DC. Finally in 1917 the ruins of the house and the surrounding lands were acquired by Virginia and ceded to the US Army, forming today's Fort Belvoir. The obelisk monument at the family grave site was constructed in the 1920s as well. In 1931 the fort's commanding officer began the first archeological dig at the old house. In the 1970s a three-year archeological dig culminated in the site being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

    The Belvoir Mansion site is located at a very poorly marked site on Fort Belvoir, Virginia. From the main gate, take Belvoir Road several miles to its end and turn right on Fairfax Drive. Where Fairfax Drive meets Forney Loop, there is a small parking area that sits at the trailhead for the mansion trail. The trail is well-marked with many interpretive signs. The total distance from the parking lot to the grave site is only about a quarter mile, and the house is located at the halfway point wjust above the river.

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    Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial

    by Ewingjr98 Written May 13, 2009
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    World War I Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial on in Lady Bird Johnson Park on Columbia Island in Lady Bird Johnson Park. Though located in DC it is only accessible from George Washington Parkway in Arlington, Virginia, and even then, only in the westbound direction (as of 2009 the parking area is closed for renovations).

    The 35 foot tall, 30 foot wide monument is dedicated to the US sailors who died at sea during World War I. It was designed in 1922 and dedicated in 1934. The design is of seven seagulls in flight over an aluminum wave.


    An inscription on the memorial reads:

    "To the strong souls and ready valor of those men of the United States who in the Navy, the Merchant Marine and other paths of Activity upon the waters of the world have given life or still offer it in the performance of heroic deeds this monument is dedicated by a grateful people."

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    Crystal City Water Park

    by Ewingjr98 Written Apr 24, 2009
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    Crystal City Water Park is a tiny oasis in busy Cristal City. The park's main feature is the huge waterfall, topped by a tranquil pool, and surrounded by beautiful flowers in the warmer months. Here there are plenty of chairs and benches for relaxing or enjoying a picnic lunch, grab a snow cone, or one of the weekly summer outdoor concerts.

    The area was once just railroad tracks, but in the 1990s the railroad was moved to make room for more high rise buildings. Luckily they preserved a slice of nature here along the railroad. The Virginia Railway Express Station is right beside the park at Crystal Drive & 15th Street. Just across the street is one of the main entrances to the Cristal City underground mall.

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    Fort Ethan Allen - near the Chain Bridge

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 14, 2009
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    Fort Ethan Allen was an earthwork fort in Arlington, Virginia. It was built by the Union Army in 1861 as part of the defense of Washington during the American Civil War. The remains of the fort, a portion of the earthen walls, now overgrown, are now part of Fort Ethan Allen Park. The historic fort is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a Historic District by Arlington County.

    There was no military action at Fort Ethan Allen throughout the Civil War; the only attack on Washington-area forts was at Fort Stevens, north of the city, in 1864. Perhaps the most memorable wartime occurrence at Fort Ethan Allen was a visit by President Abraham Lincoln, one of the few visits to a Washington fort he ever made.

    Fort Ethan Allen Park covers about 15 acres and has just a basketball court, a playground, a canine area, and a gazebo. The park is adjacent to the Madison Community Center and Glebe Road Park.


    Fort Ethan Allen is named after the Revolutionary War hero from Vermont named Ethan Allen. He gained fame in the Battle of Ticonderoga, and also helped Vermont gain independence from British colonies in New Hampshire and New York and ensured it was able to become the 14th state of the US.

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    Civil War History in Arlington

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 14, 2009
    Site of Civil War forts near Courthouse Metro
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    During the Civil War, a massive ring of fortifications protected Washington, D.C., from attack, including forts in Arlington, Alexandria, and the city of Washington, DC. By 1865, the entire system of defenses of Washington included 68 forts, 93 batteries, and some twenty miles of trenches. More then 30 miles of military roads connected these strong for communications and transportation purposes. Today just a few of the largest structures are still in existence and open to the public.

    In Arlington, two of those structures—Fort Ethan Allen and Fort C.F. Smith—have been preserved as historic districts. There are also other trenches, earthworks and historic markers visible throughout the town. In total Arlington had 22 forts; as you drive around the county you will constantly see historic markers pointing out these interesting relics. I have visited many of these sites including Fort CF Smith, Fort Ethan Allen, and Fort Haggarty (Rosslyn).


    On the edge of Alexandria lies Fort Ward, one of dozens of Civil War forts that formed a ring around the city of Washington to protect the capitol of the nation. It was built in in 1861, and while many of the area's forts have been lost to development, 90 percent of the original earthworks remain, and one of the bastions has been completely restored with replica guns. The most famous part of the fort is the white wooden gate that was also rebuilt in the 1960s. This is said to be the best preserved of all of the DC forts, and it is the only fort with a museum.


    Fort Stevens was the only Washington DC area fort to face battle in the Civil War. It was constructed during the Civil War to defend Washington DC's northern approaches. In 1864, with the Army of Northern Virginia taking a pounding at Richmond, General Robert E. Lee decided to invade the north for the third and final time (the first culminated with the battle of Antietam, MD, and the second ended in disaster at Gettysburg, PA). A 20,000 man unit, under command of General Jubal Early invaded Maryland and defeated a Union force under General Lew Wallace at the battle of Monocacy Creek in Frederick, MD. Early then moved to Washington DC and attacked at Fort Stevens, just miles from the White House. On July 12, 1864, a day-long battle took place at Fort Stevens, with the Union victorious, ending the Confederate advance. During the battle, President Lincoln arrived at the Fort and watched the action, making him the only US President to ever be present at a battle and under fire while in office. Fort Stevens is located at 13th and Quackenbos Streets, NW. There is not much at the site, except for some partially reconstructed walls and a few cannon. It is a nice park for a walk or a picnic.

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    Fort CF Smith

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 14, 2009
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    Fort C.F. Smith Park is a small 19-acre nature and historic area that includes thick trees, a meadow, the Hendry House and earthworks of a Civil War fort that was used for the defense of Washington DC.

    Fort C.F. Smith was built by the Union Army in 1863. This was part of the ring of forts that surrounded Washington and included Fort Stevens, the only one of these forts to witness a battle. Fort F.C.F. Smith formed part of the Arlington Line and was built to protect the nearby Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The fort faced to the south and west, and it had two bastions in the rear protect it from attack from the Potomac River side. Today the remaining earthwork trenches of Fort C.F. Smith are considered the best preserved ruins of the 22 forts that were created in Arlington during the war. The remaining historical artifacts from the fort include the bomb proof, the well, the north magazine, and 11 of the fort's 22 gun emplacements. Two cannons stand guard to remind visitors what the fort might have looked like 145 years ago, with many more trees today of course.

    After the Civil War ended this property was sold back to private hands and many changes took place. Today, the Hendry House stands alongside the fort, as well as a cottage/tractor barn, a farm shed, and a bank barn. The bank barn is considered the oldest building in the park, dating back to just after the Civil War. The main house is said to have been moved to this site a around 1901, then modified in 1924 and 1988. It is called the Hendry house because it was owned by Dr. Ernest S. Hendry from 1927 until 1994 when it was acquired by Arlington County. Today the beautiful house is used for conferences, weddings, and other events.

    There is a 1/2 mile trail with a short walking tour covering the historic sites and the natural sites in the park. Some of the key nature locations include the Ornamental Peace Garden with its unique trees such as the Japanese Raisin Tree, Ginko, Bottle-Brush Buckeye, English Walnut and Royal Paulownia, as well as the tiny, man-made Bird Creek near the meadow that attracts a variety of birds.

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    Arlington Cemetery: Audie Murphy's Grave

    by Ewingjr98 Written Apr 12, 2009
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    Audie Murphy was one of America's most highly decorated soldiers of World War II, earning the Congressional Medal of Honor and 32 other US and foreign medals and citations. He fought in North Africa, Salerno, Anzio, Rome, southern France, and eastern France, all before the age of 21. Later he wrote his wartime memoirs called To Hell and Back, starred in some 40 movies, and even enjoyed a mildly successful country music career. He died in a plane crash in 1971 at the young age of 46.

    Murphy's grave is located next to the Memorial Amphitheater and is said to be the second most visited grave in Arlington.

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    Arlington Cemetery: Abner Doubleday's Grave

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 11, 2009
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    Abner Doubleday was a Colonel in the regular army and a temporary, brevet Major General throughout the Civil War. He fought in the Mexican-American War, the Seminole Wars, the Civil War, and later Indian Wars. During the Civil War, where he achieved most of his fame, he is known to have fired the first Northern shot at Fort Sumter, the war's first battle, and he fought at Second bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. After the war, he is credited with patenting the famous San Francisco cable cars that are still in operation today. Later he became President of the American body of the Theosophical Society, a religious organization, and he wrote Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie (1876), and Chancellorsville and Gettysburg (1882).

    Not enough fame for one man?

    OK, he does have another small invention credited to him. He is said to have created the modern American game of baseball in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. Cooperstown is also home to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Many experts are skeptical of Doubleday's connection to baseball's roots, but most Americans tend to believe this legend. Interestingly enough, his tomb makes no mention of Doubleday's greatest claim to fame.

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    Netherlands Carillon

    by Ewingjr98 Written Apr 9, 2009
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    The Netherlands Carillon was presented to the United States as a gift from the Dutch people in recognition of American support in World War II. The first bell was presented from the Queen of the Netherlands in 1952, as a symbol of the coming gift. The original carillon and its 49 bells were placed at Hains Point Park, often a temporary stopover for small memorials, and the permanent tower was completed at the present site near the Marine Corps Monument in 1960. It was formally dedicated on May 5, 1960, which was also the 15th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands during WWII. The 50th bell was presented on the 50th anniversary of the Netherlands' liberation from the Nazis.

    The ugly black square steel tower stands 127 feet high and is flanked by two bronze lions. Thousands of beautiful tulips are planted in front of the bell tower.

    The bells play regularly and sound beautiful. Eighteen of the bells are programmed to automatically play a variety of songs such as the US National Anthem, the Netherlands National Anthem, the four US Armed Forces Anthems, America The Beautiful, and even Yankee Doodle and Auld Lang Syne at appropriate times of the year.

    Concerts are also presented on Saturdays from May through September (2-4 p.m. in May and September and 6-8 p.m. in June, July, and August). During these times, the tower is open for visitors to climb and see the glass-enclosed playing cabin that is operated like an organ.

    An inscription reads:

    So many voices in our troubled world are still unheard.
    From the People of the Netherlands to the People of the United States.

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    Gravelly Point Park - near Reagan National Airport

    by Ewingjr98 Written Mar 13, 2009
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    Gravelly Point Park is located due north of Regan National Airport along the northbound lanes of the George Washington Parkway. The park offers a great view of airplanes flying in and out of Regan and also gives access to the great Mount Vernon running trail along the Potomac. Furthermore, Gravelly Point has athletic fields suitable for soccer, football and baseball, all along the beautiful Potomac River.

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    Great Falls Park & Patowmack Canal

    by Ewingjr98 Written Feb 16, 2009

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    Patowmack Canal at Great Falls
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    At Great Falls Park, the Potomac River tumbles over a series of steep rocks and drops nearly 80 feet in less than a mile through the narrow Mather Gorge. Great Falls Park was created around the southern side of the park, and it provides many opportunities to experience history and nature, in a scenic 800-acre park 15 miles from Washington DC. The park has three viewing platforms with vantage points overlooking the falls, and the National Park Service operates a visitor center next to the falls.

    the Patowmack Canal around the Potomac River, was built from 1785 until 1803. It consisted of a series of five locks, on the Virginia side of the river, that raised or lowered boats around the falls. George Washington was a strong proponent of the project as it was a way to expand American influence to the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. This was the first canal in the US to use locks. This one mile canal had five locks and was opened in 1785.

    The canal construction centered around a town called Matildaville. This town was founded by Harry Light Horse Lee (Robert E. Lee's father) and it served as a home for many of the canal builders.

    Entrance is $5.00 for a three-day vehicle pass, or $3 for an individual pass. The park has annual passes, and it accepts the National Parks/Interagency Pass which is good at most USDA Forest Service, National Parks Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management sites.

    Access the park by exiting Interstate 495 (the Capital Beltway) at Georgetown Pike (Virginia Route 193) and head west 3 miles (4.5 km) to Old Dominion Drive. From there follow the signs north 1 mile (1.5 km) to the park entrance.

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Arlington Off The Beaten Path

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