Friday, June 11, 2010

Rolling Down the River...

Today I did something I never did before in the 32 years I've lived here...kayaking on the Potomac River.  My friend Patty and I  launched from the delightful Jack's Boathouse in Georgetown.

 I knew immediately where I wanted to head, Analostin Island/Mason's Island, known today as Theodore Roosevelt Island.  What I particularly wanted to see up close are large outcroppings of rocks on the north side of the island (facing Georgetown).  This was the location of a well-known Civil War photograph taken by George N. Barnard that shows Union soldiers sitting and standing on the rocks as well as riding on the Georgetown ferry-boat. 

The ferry-boat is leaving the the island and transporting a couple of wagons.  The docking site was at the foot of High Street, today's Wisconsin Avenue.  In the far background is the Aqueduct Bridge, an amazing feat of structural engineering (1833-43) that transported canal boats across and above the river from the District of Columbia side to Virginia.

What is even more amazing is what the wagon on the left is transporting.  Not military armaments or supplies, as one might think, but snacks!  Stenciled on the side canvas flap of the wagon is:


There is an address underneath that appears to be somewhere in Washington, DC but is not legible.  Perhaps some later research will reveal the location of this important war-time purveyor of victuals.

Not all of the rocks appear to have survived 150 years, but most of them are still there.  The Aqueduct Bridge survived until 1933 when it was removed.  One of its rusticated piers remains near the Virginia side and on the DC side the bridge's abutment that includes two of its arches is intact (left of the green Potomac Boat Club).

Patty and I heading ashore after our two hour tour.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely fascinating!
Excellent Now, Then & Again photos!

StreetsofDC said...

Fascinating then-and-now shots, Jerry. Thanks for sharing! I hope the Union soldiers enjoyed their cornballs--just the thing for whiling away the time on the island...

Anonymous said...

Excellent adventure, Jerry. Kayaking is the best! And such crisp photos and equally enticing prose. Congratulations. SL