Archive for College Park Airport

George Washington Slept Here…No Really!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2014 by Pat Regan

When I took Bonnie in for service in NYC, the guy at the shop really wanted to clean her. They said it would be a mere 85 bucks. I said I got it. I cleaned poor dirty Bonnie for the first time in months once I got to Maryland. Mother nature decided she needed a second rinse.


On Wednesday I visited a long time neglected gem in history. In the photo below is an aerial view of the College Park airport. This tiny strip is the oldest continuously used airport IN THE WORLD!

That section within the circle is one of my old stomping grounds. When I was younger me and my crew used to hang there. It was a fun spot. There was an old bridge for the B&O railroad that crossed a creek at the end of the runway. We would bring some brews, watch planes land and take off, and wait for the trains to come by. There were these 5×5 wooden platforms that extended from the sides of the bridge. It was a huge thrill to run out to the platform and stay there as these long, large, loud, clamoring trains raged by. Or, if the trains were traveling slow enough we would run along side, grab a ladder and climb to the roof, jumping from car to car like in the Wild Wild West! Nowadays the DC Metro runs through there. A great many things have changed down here in Maryland.


One positive change is that they built a museum to recognize this airport which has given so much to aviation history.

The College Park Airport was established in 1909 for the Wright Brothers to train members of the United States Army Signal Corps to fly their biplane. Below is the Wright Brothers plane in College Park being prepared for flight using a launching rail.


A diorama in the museum of the airport as it looked in the early 1900’s with that same B&O railroad passing by. Civilian aviation began with Rex Smith Aeroplane Company as seen below.


The museum houses a number of planes that have flown from the airport over the years.


Below is another photo of the Wright Brothers plane flying over College Park.



The first machine gun ever fired from a plane occurred here in College Park.


An old ticket for a motorcycle/air show. When is the next one?



There were many notable firsts that took place at the College Park Airport. I mentioned a couple already, but there are more. The first woman to fly in an airplane in 1909 with Wilbur Wright. In 1911 the first Army flying school was established here. The first bombs using bomb sites were dropped here in 1912. In 1918 the first regular air mail service was established here. The first successful flight of a helicopter took place here in 1922.



For more about the airport, CLICK HERE.

After the airport I headed back to my dad’s. After looking at some childhood photos I asked dad to take a photo in the same place with my motorcycle in place of my tricycle.



I took a walk down by the creek beyond my dad’s neighborhood. Along the way is the Adelphi Mill. It’s the oldest mill in the DC area built in 1796.


Another old hang out for me and my friends were these rocks. It was a great lookout high above a curve so you could see anyone coming from either direction (which is important for a good hangout). Notice the carved heart in the center of the rock. It was there since I was a young boy.


Here’s looking up at those same rocks.


When I was little we would catch frogs and toads in this swamp.


On the way back to the house I stopped to take this photo in order to say Happy Wednesday to some friends. This is more of the change I mentioned. The street near my dad’s is full of humps now. The road is only about a mile long and has 6 or 7 humps.



Mount Vernon

They say George Washington slept in many places, but this is the place he called home. Welcome to Mount Vernon. When I arrived, the guy at the ticket booth told me it was the busiest time of the year because of the DC cherry blossoms. In order to go inside the home you have to get a timed ticket. He seemed surprised that I got a slot for the 4:10 admission. I think riding solo helped me slip in early because I heard a group next to me get a ticket for after 5:00.



I had about an hour and a half to walk around the grounds before having to get in line for the main house.


As you look across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon you can see Fort Washington in the background.


For any fans of the National Treasure movies…I think this is the entrance to those vaults where Nicholas Cage kidnaps the President.


Or maybe it was this one. This is actually the family vault where George Washington was originally buried.


In his will however he gave orders and plans to have the family vault moved. Below is his final resting place.


There are many buildings surrounding the estate of Mount Vernon. This is a basement to store linseed oil and mixed paint.


Recognizing the possible consequences of losing trade with England, George Washington raised quality sheep and was prepared to make his own wool fabrics as well as other necessary produced items like hemp for rope.



Washington even had a smokehouse for his plastic meats.



When I saw the sign for the Spinning Room, I raised an eyebrow. No it was not a place George would go to wait it out after a night on the town. It had something to do with those sheep.


Mount Vernon keeps a live blacksmith in the shop.


The men’s slave quarters. The original building burned down in the 1800’s. This is a recreation.


Now I got in line to go inside. Unfortunately they don’t allow photography on the inside.


Since they have a NO PHOTO policy, I cannot show you the inside. You will have to visit the Mount Vernon website to show you.


After visiting the house I went to the museum and education center. Like the house, no photos in the museum. But you could take photos in the education center. Here is young George the surveyor.


My dear Jillian’s father is a collector of many items of historical importance. He donated this Indian Peace Medal to Mount Vernon.



It was a good visit. I don’t think I had been to Mount Vernon since a class trip in Elementary School.


I saw a patriotic potpourri of American flags in the store on my way out.


As I rode down the road away from Mount Vernon I exited when I saw a sign for Fort Hunt Park. In the park were the cement ruins of some old gun turrets.


Across the river from Fort Hunt one can get a direct look at Fort Washington which was also visible from Mount Vernon.


On my way home I rode through Arlington Virginia. I thought the cemetery might be open, but it wasn’t. So I went to the memorial for the USMC, the Iwo Jima sculpture.



And lastly, on the other side of the great cemetery is the memorial dedicated to the Air Force. An appropriate end to this post having started with the very beginnings of the US military in the air at College Park.