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Thread: Tuesday Tidbits - Biking-Related Factoids & History in the DC Area

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    These are so cool. Thank you!



    Also interesting: the "toll gate". Would love to know the history of tolls in the area, and whether there is precedent for a congestion charge.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin...te_244#History

    If I'm looking at the map correctly, this is the toll gate to get on to Columbia Pike. Generally speaking, the word "pike" in a road is an indication that it was at one time a toll road. It was common in the early history of the U.S. for roads to be financed and operated by corporations which would recoup their investment through tolls. This practice waned but is making a strong comeback as governments try to figure out how to finance an increasing appetite for road construction with limited resources to fund large construction projects. Florida is a great example. The population has exploded there and in response, many of the new major highways that have been constructed since I lived there as a kid are all toll roads. Locally, the Transform66 initiative is an example of a public/private partnership where a coalition of companies are putting up a large amount of capital which they will recoup through a monopoly on charging tolls. IIRC, it's a 50 year contract.

  2. #22
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    Default War of 1812: Battles, Burning and Dueling - Bike Ride on 8-6-17 with WABA and others

    Quote Originally Posted by bobco85 View Post
    This Tuesday Tidbit is from 6/6/2017

    Just outside the D.C. border in Bladensburg, Maryland lies the old Bladensburg Dueling Grounds. It can be accessed from the Anacostia River Trail near Bladensburg Waterfront Park by passing through Colmar Manor Community Park up to Bladensburg Rd (Alt US-1).
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    When you get there, you will see Dueling Creek and a few informational signs. Between 1808 and 1868, over 50 duels took place in this area. Because the District of Columbia had outlawed duels, gentlemen who needed to settle their differences without pesky law enforcement would head about 0.4 miles outside the city here to Dueling Creek (also nicknamed “Blood Run” and “The Dark and Bloody Grounds”) which is a tributary of the Anacostia River.
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    The most famous of these duels took place on March 22, 1820 between Commodore Stephen Decatur (decorated naval officer who had success against the Barbary Pirates near North Africa) and Commodore James Barron (dismissed from naval service after his ship, the frigate Chesapeake, was captured in 1807). Both captains in the Navy, Decatur was on the court-martial board that declined to reinstate Barron after having found him guilty of neglect of duty. While you can imagine that Barron was not too happy about the outcome, they had been feuding for 13 years (Barron thought Decatur had called him a coward for losing his ship). They had a duel with pistols at eight paces, and in the end, Decatur was killed while Barron was wounded.
    (Decatur on left; Barron on right)
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    Maryland officially banned duels in 1839, but you can see the legacy of the Dueling Grounds is still a part of Colmar Manor. Random fact: Colmar gets its name from District of "Col"umbia and “Mar”yland.
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    I just read your cool post above, Bobco, and see this upcoming event
    http://org.salsalabs.com/o/451/p/sal...vent_KEY=99965

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  4. #23
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    Default Island? Cape? You've Missed the...

    At the south end of Alexandria off the Mount Vernon Trail where budding cyclists go to learn cool skills, the original southern boundary stone of the District sits, and Native American artifacts over 9,000 years old were discovered, the wide area betrays its past as a thin marshy cape known as Jones Point. (map is from 1863; full version here: https://lccn.loc.gov/91686261 - note the darker area to the north labeled as "Quagmire impassable")
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    Jones Point gets its name from Calwallder Jones, a frontier trader who set up a trading post there in 1682, decades before the city of Alexandria would be founded. It is also referred to as Piper's Island in an old Fairfax survey map from 1746 because at high tide, water would cut off land access from the mainland.

    I was unable to determine when the marshy area around Jones Point (UPDATE: it was called Battery Cove, named for Battery Rodgers which was used during the Civil War) was filled in to help create part of the waterfront, but my best estimate is that it occurred between 1900-1915 (UPDATE: it occurred between 1911-1912). Here are some images showing the area as it transformed from 1862-present day:
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    Construction on the nearby Woodrow Wilson Bridge finished in December 1961, and the area has never been the same since then. Image is of the old span (new bridge was completed in 2006) from 1994 with the Jones Point Lighthouse in view.
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    Lastly, here's a bit of trivia: a portion of the Wilson Bridge actually sits in DC. If you are on the Wilson Bridge Trail crossing east from VA into MD, you will technically be in DC while passing between roughly the 1st and 2nd lookout points.
    Last edited by bobco85; 08-03-2017 at 02:04 PM. Reason: forgot to add the blending pics! - also, added details

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  6. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobco85 View Post

    I was unable to determine when the marshy area around Jones Point was filled in to help create part of the waterfront, but my best estimate is that it occurred between 1900-1915. Here are some images showing the area as it transformed from 1862-present day:
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    I seem to recall that one of the signs on the path between the MVT and the lighthouse discusses the area being filled (with dredging from the channel in the river) and the land being used for military purposes after the fill. Sounds like a good excuse to ride to Jones Point to confirm.

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  8. #25
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    Rode to Jones Point to check it out. Couldn't find a sign about the fill but there are lots of signs about the World War I shipyard.

    A few pics of the interpretive signs:



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  10. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    Rode to Jones Point to check it out. Couldn't find a sign about the fill but there are lots of signs about the World War I shipyard.
    IIRC, some of the railroad tracks serving that shipyard are still visible.

    And the waterfront wall/structure along the MVT at the end of Jones Point parking lot is shaped like one of the ships (both from above and as seen from the water).

    Aerial view:
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  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginacico View Post
    IIRC, some of the railroad tracks serving that shipyard are still visible.

    And the waterfront wall/structure along the MVT at the end of Jones Point parking lot is shaped like one of the ships (both from above and as seen from the water).

    Aerial view:
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    You are recalling correctly. There's a concrete track still there.


    Also, totally awesome that grass patch is shaped like one of the ships. Totally just reshaped how I look at it.

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  14. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    Rode to Jones Point to check it out. Couldn't find a sign about the fill but there are lots of signs about the World War I shipyard.

    A few pics of the interpretive signs:
    That's awesome!

    I think I missed actually stopping to read those info signs, but I love seeing the image of Jones Point with open sky. It's interesting to see how even a century ago, the place looked completely different. Thanks for posting the sign pics!

  15. #29
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    After some research, I have a more specific date for when Battery Cove (named after Battery Rodgers which was used during the Civil War) was filled to make space for the ship-building operation: 1911-1912.

    Another little tidbit: President Woodrow Wilson drove the first rivet (nearly botched it) in a ceremony marking the opening of the ship-building yard on May 30, 1918.

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  17. #30
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    Default Urning Its Place in DC

    Located off Ohio Dr SW in East Potomac Park next to the 14th Street Bridge is a marble urn with Spanish text written on it (location: https://goo.gl/maps/KzYCvFM9GQz). It is called the Cuban Friendship Urn, and it's had quite a little journey.
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    The history of the urn dates back to the tragedy that was exploited to start the Spanish-American War. At 9:40 p.m. on February 15, 1898, the US battleship Maine was at anchor in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, supposedly there to monitor Cuban protests against Spanish rule. An explosion occurred, killing 260 US sailors on board. The cause was never determined, but it was thought to be a mine, mechanical malfunction, or even a Spanish torpedo. This occasion was used in a rally cry of "Remember the Maine!" throughout the Spanish-American War.

    After the war, a monument was built in Maine Square in Havana, but it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1926. The monument was later restored, but in the 1960's when US-Cuba relations soured, an inscription was added to it saying, "To the victims of the Maine, who were sacrificed to imperialist greed in its fervor to seize control of the island of Cuba." Cuba salvaged a marble column from the monument and carved it into an urn. It was then presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1928 when he visited Cuban President Gerardo Machado. Coolidge would be the last President to step foot on Cuban land until President Obama's visit. Pics from Coolidge's visit, different sides of the urn, and a translation of the text:
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    When it arrived in the US, it was placed within view of the Jefferson Memorial in December 1928, but it would go on a different and mostly undocumented journey throughout DC before finding its current resting spot.
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    When the 14th Street Bridge was set to be built, the Cuban Friendship Urn had to be moved. Where was moved is unknown, as rumors exist including one that it was moved to the Cuban embassy but later removed and thrown away in the 1960's. However it happened, the urn was lost to history for decades.

    Then, in 1996, the Washington City Paper started an investigation of the urn's whereabouts. This led to the National Park Service stating that the urn had been "in storage," but an anonymous person reported that a memorial specialist found the urn lying on its side in Rock Creek Park near the NPS's old headquarters. It was repaired for $11,000 and placed in East Potomac Park in 1998 where it now stands.
    Last edited by bobco85; 08-08-2017 at 01:30 PM.

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