Mapping Out a Gift

Mapping Out a Gift

How Washington got from here to there.

Everybody seems to have at least one person on their holiday shopping list that has everything. Well, they don't have this: A map of the Potomac River area from Georgetown to Mount Vernon Estate showing the routes surveyed for a "National Road." It is dated Jan. 4, 1890 and signed by Lt. Col. Peter C. Haines, U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers.

It can be purchased at The Virginia Florist, 1632 Belle View Boulevard, Alexandria, in the Belle View Shopping Center. The large version, four feet in length, sells for $140 while the smaller, three feet, goes for $75. Both versions are suitable for framing. And, both are offered in the original form or enhanced.

Each year, Kevin Green, owner, The Virginia Florist, seems to come up with a particularly unusual gift possibility. Last year it was a set of posters announcing concerts in a variety of venues from the psychedelic '70s.

But, this year he seems to have outdone himself. "I knew this existed but I wasn't able to locate it until I found it through a friend," Green said. "It was folded into an 1890 proposal book discussing the establishment of a national road from Washington, D.C., to the Mount Vernon Estate."

THE DETAILED MAP, which is approximately 10 inches in width, shows portions of Alexandria and Fairfax County with area details of the era. It outlines the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal bed and Shutter's Hill with Fort Ellsworth, named for the first Union casualty of the Civil War, killed in Alexandria.

Other landmarks include Hell Hole Swamp, now Dyke's Marsh; Red House, now home to the American Horticultural Society; Walnut Tree Farm, now known as River Farm; and Hog Island, still Hog Island.

"The actual River Farm was at Stratford Landing on Little Hunting Creek," Green said. Waynewood was Grassymede Farm owned by the Wilkens family."

The map also portrays the route George Washington would have taken in his travels from Alexandria to Mount Vernon. That route laid the groundwork for Route 1, according to Green.

"He had to travel west on what is now Duke Street to get to a point where he could safely ford Little Hunting Creek/Cameron Run. That spot was approximately where Telegraph Road is today," Green said.

"From there he went southeastward, left on what is now North Kings Highway, to Spring Bank, then to Gum Springs and eventually to the original West Gate of Mount Vernon. After all, he couldn't cross the creek where the parkway is today. There were no bridges," he said.

Surveying for the proposed road was under the supervision of Haines, the person for whom Haines Point, in the District of Columbia, was named. The actual work was done by B.F. Mackell, CE. He was assisted by S.W. Clark, CE. The map was drawn by G.P. Strum.

In the final analysis the road was never built. "Instead they extended the trolley line to Mount Vernon," he said.