View Full Version : Alexandria Historical Bike Ride (No Drop Ride)

07-14-2017, 11:20 AM
One historical bike ride isn't enough, so I've got one cooked up for the city of Alexandria!

Interested to know how the city was captured and occupied for only 3 days by the British during the War of 1812? Ever wanted to visit the long-forgotten and lost site where the city's namesake once lived? Want to learn about how the first sit-down strike was orchestrated in order to achieve the first library in the city that its black citizens were able to visit? Come on the Alexandria Historical Bike Ride!

Figuring out a route has been tough, but I've created a good route that includes many interesting things from various parts of the city's history including more recent events.

Here are the details:

Saturday, August 12
Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Windmill Hill Park (upper portion, Lee St side) - 501 S Union St, Alexandria, VA
Rolling by 9:15 a.m.
Route: https://www.strava.com/routes/9754773 and http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/1694085782
Expected length: 24.2 miles in ~5 hours (including breaks such as Seminary Plaza ~15.0 mile mark near multiple convenience stores)
The group will stop at 25-30 different historical spots around the city and hear a bit of info from yours truly (I will try to be brief)
Ride ends at Jones Point Lighthouse - 100 Jones Point Dr, Alexandria, VA
Fitness/experience: some hills, should be comfortable riding on trails, streets, and 0.5 miles on unpaved paths
This will be a no-drop ride taken at a casual pace
The route has plenty of opportunities for rest stops
Ride start will be at 9:00 a.m. and is expected to wrap up by 2:00 p.m.

I'm excited for this ride, and I hope to see you there!

Update: I have created a Facebook event for this ride and will keep that updated, too: https://www.facebook.com/events/1920310368187558/

07-23-2017, 03:06 PM
Coooool! I love your rides. But i realized yesterday that there were places where I mightabin better off riding my hybrid...Do you know yet if there will be comparable amounts of dirt & gravel? (Grassy bits don't count.)

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07-24-2017, 01:16 PM
To avoid confusion between this ride and the Arlington one, I kept relatively silent about this one until after the other ride had occurred. Now that the Arlington ride has been completed, I can finally give some updates to the Alexandria ride details including a finalized route!

I will create a Facebook event for the Alexandria Historical Bike Ride this evening.

Coooool! I love your rides. But i realized yesterday that there were places where I mightabin better off riding my hybrid...Do you know yet if there will be comparable amounts of dirt & gravel? (Grassy bits don't count.)

Sent from my SM-G900P using TapatalkLooking over my final route (will update this page soon), there is going to be up to half a mile of unpaved riding, so you will be better off on your hybrid. However, this will have one set of stairs that your bicycle will need to be carried up, so make sure those biceps are in shape!

Steve O
07-24-2017, 05:02 PM
unless you are drevil, this will have one set of stairs that your bicycle will need to be carried up,


07-24-2017, 07:01 PM
We'll be passing very close to the historical site of Duck Donuts.

07-24-2017, 07:17 PM
Ssm508 and I are in.

07-24-2017, 09:31 PM
unless you are drevil, this will have one set of stairs that your bicycle will need to be carried up,


Ayieeee... the pressure... :D

07-24-2017, 09:31 PM
We'll be passing very close to the historical site of Duck Donuts.

There is quite a lot of history at Bradlee.
Longstanding local businesses like Atlantis pizzeria and Robcyns, and the McDonald's that used to be a Roy Rogers that had a clown in Wednesday nights.

07-25-2017, 07:16 AM
There is quite a lot of history at Bradlee.

Wait... Is there a Duck Donuts at Bradlee?!?!?!?!

07-25-2017, 09:25 AM
Wait... Is there a Duck Donuts at Bradlee?!?!?!?!It opened recently! I'm not a big fan..esp. since I have Sugar Shack so close to home.

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07-25-2017, 09:51 AM
Wait... Is there a Duck Donuts at Bradlee?!?!?!?!
In the space that used to be Pro-Feed pet supplies?

07-25-2017, 10:35 AM
In the space that used to be Pro-Feed pet supplies?

I think the space that used to be Crave Froyo, and was an ice cream place before that.

07-25-2017, 11:07 AM
It opened recently! I'm not a big fan..esp. since I have Sugar Shack so close to home.

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I have never had their (Duck) doughnuts... But I am willing to ride my bike the mile to Bradlee and check it out!

I have had Sugar Shack and I am REALLY glad the closest locations are not on a regularly traveled route for me.

08-09-2017, 02:56 PM
I'm excited for Saturday, and I'm hoping for great weather (current forecast shows high of 85 (F) and 30% chance of isolated storms).

I just finished creating my notecards for the ride.

If you need to reach me, my cell is #571-201-7189. See you Saturday!

(Edit: the notecard should read 1865 not 1875; my notes had the correct date, but I mistyped when I did the notecard.)

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08-11-2017, 12:58 PM
I'll be there for the first part of the ride unless thunderstorms are nearby. looking forward to it!

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08-11-2017, 02:01 PM
I'll be there for the first part of the ride unless thunderstorms are nearby. looking forward to it!

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I went through my route and found places along the way for the group to take shelter should we encounter any storms. The way the forecast looks, any storms will be brief. Should storms bring additional delays, I have shortcuts we can use to make up time (the shape of the route allows for this).

I will bring my rain jacket which will surely ward off any storm clouds (that's how it works, right?) :cool:

08-11-2017, 09:57 PM
I will bring my rain jacket which will surely ward off any storm clouds (that's how it works, right?) :cool:

Yes - that is exactly how it worked for the Purple line ride... :D

08-12-2017, 06:36 PM
Yes - that is exactly how it worked for the Purple line ride... :D
I should add the following corollary to my hypothesis based on today's events: being prepared for potential thunderstorms by having a rain jacket works in warding off said thunderstorms.

08-12-2017, 07:33 PM
Thank you, everyone, for coming on my ride today! We managed to ward off all thunderstorms and attract some bits of sunny blue sky, and this time we were able to visit all 34 stops! Sadly, a mechanical failure (completely stripped pedal on a tandem) caused an early departure for a few, but the rest of us soldiered on. I'm tired, throat a bit sore, and sunburnt (wasn't expecting so much solar goodness a.k.a. harmful UV radiation), but very happy to have this experience with everyone.

That said, here are my notes on the ride that y'all must study because I may quiz you someday ;)

Stop #1 - Windmill Hill Park


Named for John Alexander who purchased the land that would become Alexandria
Established in May 11, 1749 by the Virginia Assembly to form a town around a tobacco warehouse at Hunting Creek
Originally called Belhaven by a few prominent citizens for 12 years, but the name did not stick (there are old maps referencing "Belhaven formerly known as Alexandria" and "Alexandria or Belhaven")
In 1800, it became part of the District of Columbia under boundaries formed after the 1790 Residence Act
In 1847, Alexandria County (included both Alexandria and Arlington) was retroceded back to Virginia
In 1863 when West Virginia joined the Union, the capital of Virginia switched from Wheeling to Alexandria (7 counties in Northern Virginia and the Eastern Shore were Union-controlled, and Richmond was the capital of Confederate Virginia)
In 1865 when the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered and the Confederacy was dissolved, the capital switched back to Richmond


Named after Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen
Was the name given to all of North America in the early 1600's that was not claimed by Spain or France

Windmill Hill

Named for a wind-powered water mill built by John R. Remington from Alabama that occupied the sandy bluff in 1843
Used to be much steeper, but the bluff was carved out for safety
Established as a park in 1945

Occupation of Alexandria during the War of 1812

On August 20, 1814, the British sent ships from the Chesapeake Bay to attack Washington to distract from a northern attack, but the fleet was delayed due to navigating the tricky Kettle Bottom Shoals near the mouth of the Potomac River
August 27, Fort Washington (the last defense for Alexandria) went down quickly after 4 hours of bombardment as Captain Dyson spiked its guns and blew up the fort and its magazine (3,000 pounds of gunpowder) before retreating; he was then court-martialed
August 28, Alexandria (no defenses, all troops had been pulled back to DC by President James Madison) sent its mayor on a boat under a white flag to surrender the town
August 29, Alexandria became occupied by Captain James Gordon of the HMS Seahorse (38 gun frigate) and his fleet (2 frigates, 2 rocket ships, 2 bomb ships, 1 schooner) for 3 days
British gained 22 merchant ships and vast quantities of flour, cotton, tobacco, wines, and cigars
The delay from navigating the Potomac River back to the Chesapeake Bay led to a delay in the British attack on Baltimore which allowed American forces to set up their defenses and win that battle (same battle that inspired the creation of "The Star Spangled Banner")

Stop #2 - Pioneer Mill

Pioneer Mill Grain Warehouse was built in 1854 by William Fowle (Alexandria Steam Flour Company) at the end of Duke Street
It was 6 stories in height and one of the largest steam flour mills in the US, powered by a 250 horsepower steam engine that turned a dozen run-of-burr millstones and produced 800 barrels each day
Grain would arrive via both ships and trains
Went into ruin after it was not used in the Civil War and burned to the ground in a major 1897 fire
The Robinson Terminal Warehouse Company built a warehouse (Robinson Terminal South Warehouse) in 1939 on the former site of Pioneer Mill, but now that is being taken down for new development

Stop #3 - Ramsay House

Ramsay House

Built in 1724, traditionally referred to as the oldest house in Alexandria
Now the Alexandria Visitor Center

William Ramsay

Scottish merchant, one of the founders of Alexandria
First mayor of Alexandria

Stop #4 - Carlyle House

Carlyle House

Stone mansion built in 1753
Used by General Braddock as his headquarters during the French & Indian War
Became used as a hotel by James Green, then used by Union troops as a hospital during the Civil War, went into disrepair, then became an apartment building, then a museum during WWI, then apartments again, finally restored in 1970-1976 by NOVA Parks for part of nationwide bicentennial celebration

John Carlyle

Scottish merchant, one of the founders of Alexandria
Married to Sarah Fairfax, cousin of the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron

Stop #5 - Market Square

Market Square

George Washington led his troops to fight in the French & Indian War from here
Rallies were held for both Union & Confederate soldiers & sympathizers
Slaves were sold here along with other goods
Held the public whipping post

Sophia Browning Bell

Slave woman who sold goods in Market Square
Earned enough money to free her husband George Bell in 1801
Helped establish the first school for black children in DC

Gadsby's Tavern

Oldest building that has been preserved and restored in Alexandria
Mary Hawkins was the proprietor of this tavern
George Washington frequented the tavern that served primarily upper class people

Stop #6 - East Coast Greenway Midpoint

Greenway was launched in 1991
3,000 mile route running from Calais, ME to Key West, FL
Over 30% of the route is on firm-surface trails
Oronoco Bay Park is at the midpoint of the Greenway

Stop #7 - Tide Lock Park

Alexandria Canal

Built in 1833-1843 to connect Georgetown to Alexandria
7 miles long, 50 feet wide, ran along Eads St, Commonwealth Ave, & Washington St
Used to ship coal (most important), wheat, corn, flour, whiskey, fish, salt, & lumber
Responsible for the economic rebirth of Alexandria in the mid-19th Century
4 lift locks lowered boats 38 feet to the Potomac River
Ended operation in 1886, towpath was used to build an electric railway

Canal Center

Features "Promenade Classique" sculpture garden created by French artists Anne & Patrick Poirier

08-12-2017, 08:36 PM
It's kinda cool, as I type these notes I have memories of each of the actual stops that we did on the ride today. Good times were had!

Stop #8 - Charles Houston Recreation Center

Charles Hamilton Houston

Civil rights lawyer and Dean of the Howard University Law School
Died before Brown v. Board of Education SCOTUS case was ruled
Mentored Thurgood Marshall
First special counsel for the NAACP

Parker-Gray School

Founded in 1920 to combine the Snowden School (boys-only) and Hallowell School (girls-only) for grades 1-8, named for principals of previous schools
Black students used to have to travel into DC for education past 8th grade
1st students to graduate from the new high school (11th grade) in 1936
Renamed to Charles Houston Elementary School in 1950 when the new Parker-Gray High School was built

John Parker - principal of Snowden School which was destroyed in a fire in 1915
Sarah Gray - principal of Hallowell School
Earl Lloyd - student at Parker-Gray, first black person to play in NBA (3 other black players debuted in that same season, but the team Earl was on had its season opener earlier than the others)

Stop #9 - Alexandria Black History Museum

Robert H. Robinson Library

Constructed in 1940 after a court agreed that black citizens should have access to a library after Samuel W. Tucker's sit-down strike
Became the Alexandria Black History Museum in 1983

Stop #10 - Lee-Fendall House

Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee

Cavalry officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution
Served as the 9th governor of Virginia and a representative to US Congress
Gave the eulogy at George Washington's funeral, famously saying of Washington: "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Robert E. Lee's Boyhood Home

Across the street, Robert E. Lee left from here to attend West Point
The home also hosted George Washington

Lee-Fendall House

Built in 1785, 37 members of the Lee family called it home until 1903
Housed hundreds of Union soldiers during the Civil War
Owned by the Downham family and later by John L. Lewis (1937-1969)

John L. Lewis

Foremost national labor leader of his time and very controversial figure
Worked as a coal miner at age 16
Worked with the United Mine Workers Association and organized coal mine strikes across the country

Stop #11 - Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library

Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library

Constructed in 1937, formerly known as the Alexandria Library or Queen Street Library
Named for Kate Waller Barrett, a humanitarian, social crusader, and political reformer who founded a shelter for unwed mothers

Samuel Wilbert Tucker

Attorney who orchestrated the 1st sit-down strike on August 21, 1939 that involved 5 individuals (Otis L. Tucker, Edward Gaddis, Morris Murray, William Evans, Clarence Strange)
After Samuel and retired Sergeant Wilson requested a library card and were refused, they took the issue to court
Samuel had the 5 kids tried separately, boiled down to their race being the only issue, charges were dropped
Became the leading attorney for the NAACP in Virginia and crusaded against segregation in public schools

Stop #12 - Beth El Synagogue

Established by ~40 Jewish families on September 4, 1859
Rented facilities until building the first synagogue in the DC area in 1871

Stop #13 - Eugene Simpson Stadium Park

On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, a man opened fire on Republican members of Congress who were practicing for a charity baseball game
House GOP Whip Steve Scalise (Louisiana) was critically injured during this event, but has been doing much better as he recovers

Stop #14 - Potomac Yard

Potomac Yard

Opened in 1906, was 450 acres, 2.5 miles long, and had 52 miles of track
Employed up to 1,500 people at its peak, people settled in Del Ray and St. Elmo neighborhoods
Closed in 1982, was declared a Superfund site, cleaned up by 1998, then converted to parks, commercial, and residential areas

Pearson Island

First settled by Native Americans, it was technically an island because it was surrounded by a swamp and a creek
Later named Daingerfield Island
Was modified to bow out toward the East to deflect ebbing currents toward the main river channel and away from the Southern half of the island
National Park Service has had a tree nursery on it for over 60 years

Stop #15 - Preston

John Alexander and his wife lived in a spacious dwelling on the site of current-day Barnes & Noble
In 1808, the Washington Turnpike passed by Preston
Destroyed by a fire in 1862, it was graded over for development

08-12-2017, 09:10 PM
One more set for tonight, and I'll post the other 2 parts on Sunday.

Stop #16 - Walter F. Anderson Bikeway

Luna Park

Amusement park running from 1906-1915, part of chain owned by Frederick Ingersoll
34 acres, had figure 8 roller coaster, shoot-the-chutes ride, ballroom, circus arena, restaurants, and picnicking facilities for 3,000 people
Fire destroyed the roller coaster in April 1915; nearest fire hydrant was in Alexandria (think Old Town) over a mile away, park closed down soon afterwards
Now occupied by a sewage treatment facility (roller coaster site just North of 31st St S)

Washington, Alexandria, & Mount Vernon Electric Railway

Started in 1892, nation's first successful electric trolley line
Ran between Alexandria & Mount Vernon before expanding North to Washington (14th St/B St NW near Federal Triangle Metro)
Ran on Alexandria Canal towpath along I-395, Eads St, Commonwealth Ave, & the GW Parkway to Mount Vernon and eventually Fort Belvoir
Traffic circle at Mount Vernon is the trolley turnaround
Last trolleys of the line ran in 1932
Rail yard is now the Metro bus yard

Wayne Frederick Anderson Bikeway

Wayne F. Anderson was a city planner from 1970-1974
Washington Post article wrote: "As Alexandria city manager (1970-1974), Mr. Anderson worked to balance land development pressures with quality-of-life concerns. He also worked to improve relations with the city's black population, reorganized government departments and helped develop plans to revive neglected schools, neighborhoods and business districts."

Stop #17 - Alexandria Junction

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad

Construction began in 1855, meant to cross Blue Ridge Mountains to reach coal fields in Hampshire County, Virginia (now Mineral County, West Virginia)
Began operation in 1859 running from a terminal near Princess/Fairfax Streets in Alexandria to Vienna
After being extended, it ran from Alexandria to Bluemont (near VA-WV line)
Originally the Alexandria & Harper's Ferry Railroad -> Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad -> Washington and Ohio Railroad -> Washington and Western Railroad -> Washington, Ohio and Western Railroad -> leased by Richmond and Danville Railroad -> acquired by Southern Railway in 1894 -> acquired in 1912 by John Roll McLean (McLean is named after him) and Stephen Benton Elkins as part of the new Washington & Old Dominion Railway -> bought by Stephen Elkins' son Davis Elkins to become Washington & Old Dominion Railroad -> purchased by Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and owned by them until 1968 when it ended service

Alexandria Junction

Connected the Bluemont Line with Union Station in DC for the Southern Railway
Built before Bluemont Junction

Stop #18 - Del Ray

Town of Potomac

Formed in 1908 as a combination of Del Ray, St. Elmo, and the site of the former St. Asaph Racetrack & poolroom

Del Ray

Originally formed in 1894 between Commonwealth Ave, t. Ida Ave, Bellefonte Ave, & US-1
After the city of Alexandria annexed the town of Potomac in 1930, the town became the Del Ray neighborhood

St. Elmo

Originally on the East side of the W&OD between Ashby St, Calvert Ave, & US-1
Became part of the town of Potomac

St. Asaph Racetrack

Horse racetrack operating from 1894-1897 when Virginia banned betting on horse races
Betting moved to poolroom which was making $150k/year in profit by placing bets via telegraph (claimed bets were technically being placed outside the state) but also had gambling (poker, roulette, etc.) inside
Closed down in 1905 by Commonwealth Attorney Crandall Mackey

Stop #19 - Alexandria Union Station

Opened in 1905, serviced passenger trains of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, Washington Southern Railway, and Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad
In 1971, Amtrak took ownership of the building, and CSX Transportation took ownership of the rails
In 2001, ownership changed to the city of Alexandria
Referred to as Alexandria Station to avoid confusion with DC's Union Station (typically the next stop)
Used to have both a passenger station and a freight station; King Street Metro was constructed on the site of the old freight station

Stop #20 - George Washington Masonic Temple

Built from 1922-1932 to honor George Washington who was a Mason (part of Fredericksburg Lodge before becoming Charter Master at Alexandria-Washington Lodge)
Built in the likeness of the Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt
Sits atop Shuter's Hill a.k.a. "Shooter's Hill"
At first, a life-size bronze statue of George Washington was on display in Alexandria from 1861-1863 before it was moved to Richmond and later destroyed in a fire in 1865

Stop #21 - T.C. Williams High School

Opened in 1965, named after Thomas Chambliss Williams, superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools from the mid-1930's to the mid-1960's
Stadium was dedicated as Parker-Gray Memorial Stadium on October 29, 1983
Basketball court named in honor of Earl Lloyd (1st black NBA player) in 2007
Movie "Remember the Titans" portrays consolidation of the city's 3 public high schools into one in 1971 creating an all-star team (climax of the film was actually a mid-season game against Marshall, the only team that put up a fight; T.C. Williams rolled over everyone else to the championship)
Known for its internationally competitive rowing program that has won state, national, and international championships and produced Olympic athletes
Notable alums include Casey Wilson (actress & screenwriter), David Bray (FCC exec), and Edward Wong (foreign correspondent)

Stop #22 - Episcopal High School

Founded in 1839 as the first high school in Virginia, originally known as The Howard School
Central administration building (Hoxton House) was built in 1805 by Elizabeth Parke Custis Law (oldest granddaughter of Martha Washington)
Closed during the Civil War, used as a hospital for Federal troops
Famed poet Walt Whitman served as a nurse at the temporary hospital
Became co-ed in 1991
Notable alums include John McCain (politician, excelled at wrestling while there), Tim Hightower (NFL running back), and Lester Kinsolving (political talk radio host, first White House correspondent to ask questions about the HIV/AIDS epidemic during the Reagan administration)

08-13-2017, 09:23 AM
Thanks for yet another fun and fact-filled ride! And thanks for bringing your powerful rain jacket ju ju!

08-13-2017, 09:52 AM
Thank you for all your research, leading, great stories, and for posting your notes. The ride was fun (even the off-road section, sidewalks, cobbles, and creepy tunnel).

08-13-2017, 11:17 AM
I'm glad everyone had a great time, and I was happy to hear the additional historical information that many on the ride were able to offer! Alright, back to work on these notes!

Stop #23 - Fort Ward

Built in 1861 and named for Commander James H. Ward, the first Union naval officer to die in the Civil War
Never attacked by Confederates
Earthen walls are 90-95% intact due to preservation efforts, one of the best mid-Atlantic preserved forts

Stop #24 - Stonegate Archaeological Preserve

Developers pledged not to disturb this site in the 1990's
Alexandria's first legally designated Archaeological Preserve
Earliest identifiable artifacts found were 2 projectile points (lobate points) from ~5500 B.C.E.
Native Americans passed through here as early as 8,500 years ago
3 sites found where they used the bluff tops to manufacture tools and build campfires
1 site found below a bluff on a terrace overlooking the creek that had projectile points and Accokeek pottery (temporary/seasonal camp)

REST STOP - Seminary Plaza

Stop #25 - Cloud's Mill

Built in 1813, also known as Triadelphia, used to produce flour
Partially preserved mill race ran from Beauregard/Morgan to Duke St
Used during Civil War to launch aerial reconnaissance missions by the Balloon Corps

Stop #26 - Cameron Station

Cameron Station

Location of the Defense Logistics Agency (combat support), operated from 1941-1995, made of 8 massive warehouse buildings
Closed by the 1988 Base Realignment and Closure Commission and turned into a residential area

Camp California

Extensive federal encampment during Civil War
Strathblane estate located on Strathblane Pl near Patrick Henry ES served as headquarters for the encampment

Colonel Ben Brenman

Alexandria community activist for over 30 years
Involved in scores of projects including acquisition of the park that was later named for him (Ben Brenman Park)
Founded the Alexandria Archaeological Commission and served as its chairman for 21 years
Ben Brenman Archaeology in Alexandria Award presented to people who have given significant contributions toward Alexandria's community archaeology and acknowledges high quality work and efforts towards preservation and more

Stop #27 - Phoenix Mill

Built in 1812, only remaining mill structure in Alexandria
Also known as Brown's Mill, Watkin's Mill, and Dominion Mill
Had 8,000 foot mill race running from Holmes/Backlick Runs into Cameron Run
Produced 10,000 barrels of flour each year
Can't go inside because it's not safe

Stop #28 - Cameron Mills

2 mills built around 1752, possibly by William Bird, near Taylor Run/Cameron Run
Eastern mill purchased by Alexandria Water Company and became a pumping station in 1851, pumped water into a reservoir by Shuter's Hill for over a century
Western mill operated until 1919, owned by Walter Roberts who also ran a grain and feed store (now Virtue Feed & Grain restaurant, in the alley you can see the original "Walter Roberts" on the brick wall) at Union St/Wales Alley - mill burned down in 1928

Stop #29 - Dwight David Eisenhower Statue

Built to officially mark the start of the Eisenhower national expressway system
Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways is the full name of the interstate system, authorized by Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956
Ike served as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during WWII
My grandfather (Leonard Daniel Dry), born in Hutsonville, IL, served in US Army and was put in Ike's unit in Europe due to his mechanical and driving skills, once drove Winston Churchill, later joined Secret Service when Ike ran for president, Ike responsible for his marriage

08-13-2017, 11:44 AM
Alright, time for the last set of notes before I do something else with my day (probably something with biking :cool:).

Stop #30 - African-American Heritage Memorial Park

African-American Heritage Memorial Park

Opened in 1995, is an 8 acre park containing a cemetery and an African-American burial ground dating before the Civil War
Sculptor Jerome Meadows created the bronze tree memorial sculptures called "Truths That Rise from the Roots - - Remembered"
Other sculptures commemorate historic African-American neighborhoods and the 21 people buried in Black Baptist Cemetery

The Bottoms

Settled in 1798, first free black neighborhood in Alexandria
Undesirable marsh "bottom" land leased to free men, now more commonly called the Dip
Free black population rose greatly when Alexandria became part of District of Columbia due to its less restrictive laws against black assembly and education
First black religious congregation, Colored Baptist Society, formed in 1803, built first black church in Alexandria in 1818 (Alfred Street Baptist Church)
Odd Fellows Hall built in 1870, site of ceremonies, social gathering, and business meetings for over a century

Stop #31 - Franklin & Armfield Slave Office

Built 1810-1820, housed the offices of the largest slave trading firm in the antebellum South, started in 1828 by Isaac Franklin and John Armfield
Extension behind the building was used as part of the slave-holding facilities, there were also other slave pens whose bricks were used to build the adjacent townhouses
Was in use until Alexandria fell to Union forces in the Civil War

Stop #32 - Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery

In January 1864, the federal government established this cemetery as a burying ground for freedmen in Alexandria who were sometimes called Contrabands
Contraband: good that has been imported/exported illegally, i.e. smuggled
Graves marked with a whitewashed wooden grave marker
Burials ended in 1869 when the government abandoned the cemetery, and it became forgotten, encroached by gas station, railroad, and interstate
In 1987 the city of Alexandria started the process to turn it into a memorial park
Approximately 1,800 people were buried at the cemetery, at least 123 graves have been located by archaeologists as of 2004 (note: a plaque at the cemetery shows up to 540 have now been located)

Stop #33 - Woodrow Wilson Bridge

Jones Point

Starts from South side of Wilson Bridge at Lee (Water) and South (DNE) Streets, standing on impassible quagmire
Named after Calwallder Jones, a frontier trader who set up a post here in 1682
Once referred to as Piper's Island because high tides would separate it from the mainland (Piper name unknown)

Woodrow Wilson Bridge

Built in 1961, crosses 3 jurisdictions (a spot on the bridge between the 1st and 2nd observation decks is technically in DC; marked on the bridge itself, too)
Named for the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson's birth, his widow died the morning of the bridge opening to traffic
Designed to handle 75,000 vehicles/day, it was serving 200,000 vehicles/day by 1999
New bridge opened in 2006, spans 20 feet higher, bike/pedestrian path opened in 2009

Battery Cove

Named for Battery Rodgers during Civil War
Filled in 1911-1912 to make space for ship-buildings operation
President Woodrow Wilson drove 1st rivet in a ceremony marking opening of shipbuilding yard on May 30, 1918

Virginia Shipbuilding Corporation

Built facilities for 7,000 workers in the matter of 3 months

Stop #34 - Jones Point Lighthouse

Jones Point Lighthouse

Built in 1855, served primarily as a warning lights for naval ships approaching Navy Yard
Used a fifth order Fresnel lens (most advanced at the time) that could be seen up to 9 miles away
Discontinued in 1926 and replaced by a small steel skeletal tower for 10 years
Damaged by weather, tides, vandalism, target practice by soldiers during WWII, about half of the wood was gone
Sold by Daughters of the American Revolution to the National Park Service and became a park in 1964
Only river lighthouse still standing in the Chesapeake Bay area, but only working lighthouse on the Potomac River is at Fort Washington

DC South Boundary Stone

In March 1791, President George Washington issued a proclamation that established Jones Point as the starting point for the federal territory's boundary survey
Survey team was made of Major Andrew Ellicott, Joseph Ellicott, Benjamin Ellicott, Isaac Roberdeau, George Fenwick, Isaac Briggs, and Benjamin Banneker
Survey team placed boundary stones in 1791-1792, area contained became District of Columbia in 1801
Daughters of the American Revolution to thank for putting protective iron cages around each one of the boundary stones

Major Andrew Ellicott

American surveyor, part of team surveying Mason-Dixon Line
Continued and completed L'Enfant's work on the plan for DC
Mentor and teacher for Meriwether Lewis
Surveyed many of the lands West of the Appalachians but East of the Mississippi River (before Louisiana Purchase)

Benjamin Banneker

Free African-American born in Baltimore
Almanac author, surveyor, naturalist, and farmer, largely self-taught
Knowledge of astronomy led to many commercially successful almanacs

10-13-2017, 10:18 PM
I've got great news: I just completed my guidebook for the Alexandria Historical Bike Ride!

For those not in the know about this, here's the sequence of events:

Initially, it was close to being finished in August
My laptop broke (motherboard fried)
I tried to get it fixed, but Apple considers 2011 hardware to be too ancient and Microcenter told me the cost to fix would be more than a new computer i.e. my laptop was totaled
In my process of moving to Seattle, I ordered a new laptop
New laptop arrives, I get all my design applications back on it (luckily had registered them with Adobe, so redownloading was easy)
I took the hard drive from the old laptop, plugged it in (external USB), and voila, the files were still there!
Researching the cost of printing X number of copies, cutting them, and binding them, I concluded that it was cheaper to buy my own printer, paper trimmer (has the sliding blade to cut many pages in half with smooth edge), and binding machine
I acquired everything necessary
Now: I have finished the guidebook (including proofreading and double-checking all directions) and have started production

I will be contacting a few folks who will be tasked with distributing a limited number of the guidebooks, but I will also make the guidebook available as a PDF just like my Arlington one. (takes deep breath)


I don't know if y'all could hear that from the East Coast, but I am relieved that it is finally complete!

10-14-2017, 06:34 AM
VisitAlexandria would be interested in details of this project. They said as much at the last BPAC meeting.

10-15-2017, 05:52 PM
VisitAlexandria would be interested in details of this project. They said as much at the last BPAC meeting.
Awesome! Do you have any contact info for the VisitAlexandria representative? You can give them my e-mail.

11-15-2017, 09:27 PM
VisitAlexandria would be interested in details of this project. They said as much at the last BPAC meeting.
Update: I reached out to them, and after some discussion, I am happy to announce that the Alexandria Visitor Center is planning on printing a few of the guidebooks! They said the guidebooks will be available in early 2018. Thank you for getting me in touch with them!

12-26-2017, 02:11 PM
The guidebooks for this ride have now arrived in Virginia! I sent a box of them each to Steve O and CaseyKane50 for distribution. If you want an electronic PDF version, let me know so I can send one to you.

12-27-2017, 08:37 AM
The guidebooks for this ride have now arrived in Virginia! I sent a box of them each to Steve O and CaseyKane50 for distribution. If you want an electronic PDF version, let me know so I can send one to you.

Yes I would! William_G_Fuchs@msn.com

12-27-2017, 10:54 AM
The guidebooks for this ride have now arrived in Virginia! I sent a box of them each to Steve O and CaseyKane50 for distribution. If you want an electronic PDF version, let me know so I can send one to you.
Quick clarification: if you want an electronic PDF version, let me know either via private message on this forum or send me an e-mail at bobco85@gmail.com - either way, I will need your e-mail address (but this way you can keep it private).