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A Bike Trip Through History

The Center Hiking Club hosts this season’s final historic marker bicycle tour.

Take a Tour

The final historic marker bike tour through Arlington and Alexandria is schedule for this Saturday, Oct. 12, starting at the East Falls Church Metro station at 9:15 a.m. The tour, sponsored by the Center Hiking Club, will take place rain or shine, and covers 25-30 miles. Reservations are not required, but there is a $2 fee for people who are not members of the club. It is encouraged for participants to bring a bag lunch, water, and any kind of bike to use on the trails. Visit www.centerhikingclub.org or contact the tour leader, Bernie Berne at bhberne@yahoo.com...

— Now that last weekend's heat wave is over and things are back to feeling fall-like, it's time for the last historic marker bicycle tour of the season, led by Bernie Bern of the Center Hiking Club.

The ride, which starts at the East Falls Church Metro station Saturday morning, meanders along trails from Arlington into Falls Church and down to Alexandria, stopping roughly at one-mile intervals to examine and discuss the history of stone boundary markers.

Most of the markers are well over 100 years old, identifying property boundaries established by Washington, D.C.'s planners and cartographers, Berne said.

"We allow for a lot of time for talking about history," he said, and as a result the 25-30 mile trip can take all day, should the riders want to make the full trip.

Originally, the markers were rather ornate for their time, featuring a compass mark on one side, the year on another side, the seal of Virginia on another side, and a symbol of the U.S. on the last.

"These were the first government monuments," Berne said.

Some of the markers are in decent shape, while others have been exposed to the elements so long, they might be difficult for the untrained eye to find.

The ones that tend to be in the best shape are those now on private property, meaning sometimes the tour will divert from the W&OD trail.

"One fellow created a path so people don't walk into his yard," but can still get up close to the marker, which he also maintains, Berne said.

Other markers can't be reached easily at all, including one in the flood plane near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Alexandria. There, Four Mile Run typically covers the marker with water, but a special platform has been put up so the post can be seen at low tide.

In some locations where the markers have been lost to time, a plaque remains to identify the spot where a marker once stood. Berne said during the early 1900s, the Daughters of the American Revolution set out to dedicate the markers, putting fences around them to preserve their locations. Of course, some of those plaques themselves have been lost or relocated, or have been rededicated several times, Berne said.

People interested in the bike tour are encouraged to take their time riding in the group, asking questions or adding anecdotes, he said.