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The Potomac River Runs Deep

The Potomac River starts in West Virginia and flows in a southeasterly direction towards Point Lookout, Maryland where it meets the Chesapeake Bay. About 3,100 feet above sea level, high up in the mountains of West Virginia, it trickles out as a spring in a hillside meadow near the base of Backbone Mountain, marked by the what's called the Fairfax Stone about a mile from the Maryland border. It flows through many different areas on it's nearly 300-mile journey to the point where it enters the Bay.

Harper's Ferry and Potomac River, West Virginia

Harper's Ferry and Potomac River, West Virginia

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The 4th largest river along the Atlantic coast, It forms part of the boundary between Maryland and West Virginia and then separates Virginia from both Maryland and the District of Columbia. The upper part has carved several gaps across the parallel mountain ridges, the largest being the water gap at Harpers Ferry, WV. By the time it is joined by the Savage River some forty-five miles from the source, it has made a swift descent, already dropping 2,000 feet in elevation. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park parallels it. Back in the day, many smaller boats went to Cumberland, Maryland via this canal. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company of 1828 was so successful that the canal competed with roads and even railroads until the early 1900's.

Great Falls, Potomac River, c.1864

Great Falls, c.1864

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Kayaker at the Top of a Waterfall, Great Falls on the Potomac River

Kayaker at the Top of a Waterfall, Great Falls on the Potomac River

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What I refer to as "suicidal kayakers" somehow navigate it's monstrous wild side at Great Falls, which is an incredibly rocky and steep and the water flows furiously. So much so that the noise is nearly deafening. It amazes me that they can make it through to the other side. It amazes me more that they actually WANT to make this hazardous journey.

The waterway passes over the Great Falls above Washington, D.C., where it is crossed by the Arlington Memorial Bridge and others.

Below the city, it's a 125-mile long tidal estuary and at this point, and between two and eight miles wide. Large ships are able to navigate it all the way from the Washington, DC area out to the Chesapeake Bay. This lower portion of the river was home to many native Americans. The Spaniards most likely showed up sometime before 1570 and Captain John Smith explored and mapped it in 1608.

In and around the Colonial Beach area, they probably encountered subtribes of the Powhatan native American indian tribe, such as Onawmanient in the Nomini Bay area, the Pissasec, the Pissacoac, on the north bank of Rappahannock River above Leedstown, and the Uttamussamacoma on the south bank of the Potomac River in Westmoreland County.

Colonial Beach is mentioned in Frederick Tilp's book, This Was The Potomac River..Second Edition 1979 With Corrections

There's an annual Festival during the second week in June in Colonial Beach to pay tribute to this mighty waterway, the 20th largest in the U.S.A

Scenic View of the Potomac River Near Balls Bluff

Scenic View of the Potomac River Near Balls Bluff

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