Sunday, June 12, 2016

Frederick, MD

Our history tour started with The Falls Church, the church that gave the town its name.  The church dates back to the early 1700s and was one more thing that George Washington is associated with.   During the civil war it served as a hospital and then a stable and barracks for the troops of both sides.

The early morning temperatures were in the 90s but, we were blessed with a “cooling” head wind.  As we headed west on the Washington & Old Dominion Rail Trail, Joe made many photo stops—wildlife, railroad artifacts, and other points of interest. Since Jeff rides this trail several times a week it all seemed like old stuff to him. The W&OD runs through a 100 foot-wide and 45-mile long park that is owned and operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. The paved trial stretches the entire length of the park from Shirlington to Purcellville as it passes through the communities of Arlington, Falls Church, Dun Loring, Vienna, Reston, Herndon, Sterling, Ashburn, Leesburg, and Hamilton.  The W&OD trail was built on the rail bed of the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, which operated from 1859 to 1968.

By mid-morning we passed through the lovely town of Leesburg, VA.  This small town has a vibrant downtown with lots of shops and restaurants. Unfortunately, we passed through the town too early to enjoy them.  Most of Leesburg was founded on the property of Nicholas Minor, who petitioned the General Assembly for the construction of a town on his land. Originally named Georgetown after King George I of England, the town’s name was later patriotically changed to Leesburg, in honor of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence to show its faith and support of our newly founded country.
In Leesburg we stopped at the George C. Marshall’s home.  He helped direct the Allied Victory in World War II and was the architect of the European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan) that earned Marshall the Nobel Peace Prize. Except for three significant changes to his home the House retains its early 19th-century architectural details. 

Before leaving town we checked out the:
  • ·         Loudoun County courthouse erected in 1895. In front of the courthouse stands a statue of a Confederate soldier.
  • ·        Thomas Birkby House, circa 1770
  • ·        The Lightfoot restaurant, originally constructed in 1888 and served as Peoples National Bank for more than half a century. In 1999, the building was restored to its Romanesque Revival Style grandeur.

We moved from the trail to the road as we cycled to Whites Ferry.  White's Ferry is the last of 100 ferries that used to operate on the Potomac River. This ferry, named after the confederate Civil War General Jubal A. Early, connects Maryland and Virginia across the Potomac River.  

After we arrived in Maryland we headed to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail.  C&O Canal is 184.5 miles long.  Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Today it endures as a trail.

Before entering the trail, we helped another cyclist with a flat tire.  Later, Jeff had his own flat tire.  This trail took us about 9 miles west before we headed north on the road to Frederick.  As we neared that end of our ride, our 2 GPSs gave us different directions to our motel.  We were hot and tired, which may have added to the confusion as to which way to go.  Eventually, we got it figured out and enjoyed our air-conditioned room and shower. 

After getting cleaned up, we headed into Frederick’s downtown.  Many unique restaurants and shops were still open.  We learned that Frederick was an important stop along the Great Wagon Road that became known came down from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Emmitsburg, Maryland and continued south following the Great Appalachian Valley.  It was also a stopping point on the westward migration to Cumberland, Maryland and ultimately crossed the Appalachian. Frederick became Maryland's capital city briefly in 1861, as the legislature moved from Annapolis to vote on the secession question.

The town houses the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the Roads and Rails Museum, and the wonderful Carroll Creek Park.  This park began as a flood control project in late 1970s but now include brick pedestrian paths, water features, planters with shade trees and plantings, pedestrian bridges, and a 350 seat amphitheater for outdoor performances.  Public art is incorporated into the park, including iron trees, scrolling plants, flowers, and the occasional water creature; a bronze-cast drinking fountain; 24 water mosaics.

After our tour of downtown Frederick and a great meal in the brew pub, we went back to our motel, completed this blog, an crashed.

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