Jones Point Park, Alexandria, Virginia

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By John Cowgill

Many people who live in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area have probably never heard of Jones Point Park, but they have driven over this park many times.  Where is this park?  Under the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge!

In addition to the Wilson Bridge, Jones Point Park has basketball courts and views of the Potomac River.  The Mount Vernon Bike Trail passes through the park.  What looks like an average park is a big piece of history.

The story of Jones Point Park begins long before the city of Alexandria began.  Originally called Pipers Island, the land rests where Hunting Creek (now Cameron Run) flows into the Potomac River.  It was a hunting ground for local Indian tribes.  The land later was the site of a plantation owned by Margaret Brent, a tobacco farmer from Saint Mary’s City, Maryland who later was a lawyer and suffragist.  A little village known as Cameron was erected here.

Jones Point Park

Southern boundary stone of the District of Columbia

The city of Alexandria was at one time one of the busiest port cities in the nation.  Jones Point was a very important place, as it was a shipbuilding site.  In the 1790s, the cornerstone of the District of Columbia was place here, making Jones Point the southernmost point of what would become the nation’s capital.  In the 1850s, a lighthouse was erected to help guide the ships into one of the nation’s busiest points.  Later, naval ships were built here to fight in World War I.

Jones Point Park

An old ship’s rudder

After World War I, the ship building ceased at Jones Point.  The lighthouse was decommissioned.  The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge was built.  Alexandria, a major port city, saw less and less port traffic.

Today, Jones Point is a much different place, with only the lighthouse and the original cornerstone of the District of Columbia remaining.  (The cornerstone is encased in glass next to the lighthouse.)  New boundary stones have replaced the old ones.  You can see the ruins of the launch area where ships were launched into the Potomac River.  What is now a peaceful park was once a very busy place.  With each step, you are stepping where the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan region began.

 

John Cowgill (johnbcowgill1@gmail.com) loves to visit historic places and parks to include lesser known sites.  He loves traveling, taking road trips, taking photographs, and he loves railroads.  You can also follow him on Facebook at ‘John Cowgill: Photographic Journeys’ and ‘John Cowgill: DC Railroad Examiner’.  You can also check out his railroad articles on ‘John Cowgill: Stories of the Railroad’ at johncowgillstoriesoftherailroad.com.

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