Two rivers

Quite a busy weekend hiking at sites along two rivers in two different directions: south to the Occoquan River on Saturday, and then across the Potomac River to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens on the Anacostia River on Sunday.

Occoquan Regional Park sits on the north bank of the Occoquan River, sandwiched between the town of the same name on the south bank and the site of the Lorton Reformatory to the north, the former prison for the District of Columbia that closed in 2001. At the center of the park is an old brick-kiln used to manufacture the bricks used to build the prison and its nearby workhouse. The kiln is surrounded by signs describing the plight of members of the women’s suffrage movement who were sentenced to terms in the prison during the Wilson Administration:

Attempting to persuade President Wilson and the Democratic Party to support actively the Susan B. Anthony amendment, first proposed in 1878, the National Women’s Party began to picket the White House in 1917. Beginning in June 1917 scores of women were arrested, found guilty of unlawful assembly, sentenced to pay a fine of $25, or serve a term in jail. Preferring jail rather than paying what they considered unjust fines, the women were given sentences ranging from 60 to 90 days and in some instances 6 months.


There’s more about the Occoquan Workhouse and the Women’s Suffrage Movement here.

Anyway, the park’s banana shape along the river just doesn’t yield a very long walk, unless you want to walk north to look at the gates of the old prison and a radio antenna, so after walking 2 miles in the park along the river, we left the park to cross Ox Road and walk south to cross the river on a footbridge and explore the historic town of Occoquan. The return to the park made a total walk of about 5 miles, and one of the town’s many restaurants provided a nice lunch afterwards.


Sunday was taken up with an outing to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a trip worth taking at least once a year. June-July is usually the best time to visit for optimum viewing of the lotuses, water lilies, and other aquatic plants. The gardens are bounded by the Anacostia River and wetlands, so there’s only room enough for about a 3-mile hike, although we put in probably another mile or two wandering around through the garden paths.

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