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Thread: Alexandria Historical Bike Ride (No Drop Ride)

  1. #21
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    Default History Notes - Part 3 of 5

    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)

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  3. #22
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    Default Thanks Bob!

    Thanks for yet another fun and fact-filled ride! And thanks for bringing your powerful rain jacket ju ju!

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  5. #23
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    Default Thanks!

    Bob,
    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).
    /g

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  7. #24
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    Default History Notes - Part 4 of 5

    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

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  9. #25
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    Default History Notes - Part 5 of 5

    Alright, time for the last set of notes before I do something else with my day (probably something with biking ).


    • 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

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