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Walk in the Woods: Potomac Marble in Dickerson, MD

March 30 @ 10:30 am - 3:00 pm

Discover the stone that was used to rebuild Washington D.C. after the British invaded in 1814. Join local historians, Paul Kreingold and Jon Wolz, on a hike to learn about the lost history of the Potomac Marble on our first Walk in the Woods of the year!

Paul Kreingold will discuss the 200-year-old quarries discovered during the research for his book Potomac Marble: History of the Search for the Ideal Stone. Mr. Kreingold is the Conservation Director of the Loudoun County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League and a Virginia Master Naturalist, Banshee Reeks Chapter.

Jon Wohl, Poolesville historian, C&O Canal expert and journalist will point out various, interesting Civil War and other historical sites along the way.

We will be walking about 2.2 miles each way to the quarry on the C&O Canal towpath. Once we reach the site we will cross over the canal in a usually dry spot and then scramble up a steep incline into the quarry itself.

We will meet at the Dickerson Conservation Area Parking Lot in Dickerson, MD (20700 Martinsburg Rd, Dickerson, MD 20842) at 10:30am. If you are using your GPS, please note that White’s Ferry is currently closed so you will need to use the bridge over the Potomac River at Point of Rocks off Route 15.

A few important items to note:

– Wear sturdy hiking shoes, dress appropriately, and bring a snack and water (there is no potable water during the hike). Don’t forget your camera and walking stick!

– Registration is required as space is limited. Please cancel your registration if you cannot attend so that we can open the spot for someone else.

– There is a well-maintained porta-potty about two miles from the starting point of the walk.

– We should return to our starting place before 3:00 PM.

– Each participant will be required to complete the following form (copies will be available at the beginning of the hike):

– You will be notified by email if the event is delayed due to weather. The rain date is April 13.

More about the history of Potomac Marble:

The destruction of Washington in 1814 by the invading British challenged President Monroe & Benjamin Latrobe with the task of rebuilding the edifices which had been destroyed. As did Washington and Jefferson earlier, they understood that the principal buildings of the government were not mere offices but symbols of the aspirations of the Republic. They had to be more than functional, they had to be beautiful. As classicists, their notions of beauty were derived from the ancient Greek and Roman Republics. Like the Greeks and Romans, the preferred building material was marble. The question was, where was such building material to be found?

The building material which was discovered and used was Potomac Marble, which exists in abundance on both sides of the Potomac River, extending from Leesburg to Montgomery County. It is not actually marble, but a limestone conglomerate. Architect of the Capitol Benjamin Latrobe and President Monroe rode all up and down Loudoun and Montgomery Counties opening up quarries, and despite many problems and political opposition, Latrobe was able to build the beautiful columns in the Capitol from this marble.

In the process of his research, Kreingold has re-discovered some of the two-hundred-year-old quarries and has polished samples from these local quarries for display.

He will also discuss:

1. The step-by-step invasion of the British from the Patuxent River to D.C.

2. The methods the British used to actually burn the stone buildings; after all, how do you burn stone?

3. How stone was quarried in the early 19th century, along with sample quarry tools.

4. The utilization of George Washington’s Potomac Canal to ship the stone to D.C. for carving.

This hike is produced by the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB). It is part of ICPRB’s Walk in the Woods series of hikes.


Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin
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Dickerson Conservation Park
20700 Martinsburg Rd
Dickerson, United States
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