“In 1791 and 1792, Andrew Ellicott and his surveying team placed 40 boundary stones around the perimeter of the District of Columbia, one at each mile of the original diamond shape…Ellicott’s team embarked on a 40-mile journey that took nearly two years.”
On August 16th, we set out to recreate Ellicott’s journey, one 10-mile side at a time, over the course of four (nonconsecutive) days. Why? Because we can. We started out with the NE boundary, which runs a conveniently straight path along Eastern Avenue (with a few notable exceptions). Not knowing what to expect, we decked ourselves out with excessive urban adventure provisions (CamelBack, beef jerky, camera, etc.).
www.boundarystones.org provides locations for all the stones. Those directions, combined with fences the DC chapter of DAR put around all the stones in 1915 to protect them, makes them relatively easy to find, though our iPhones proved invaluable for the trip.
* NE 1 was accidentally bulldozed in 1952 and is now marked by a plaque in the sidewalk in front of an Ethiopian restaurant called Tiramisu – good smoothies!
* In between NE 4 and 5, Eastern Ave dead-ends, with an “Emergency Exit” sign leading into a field…
* NE 5: white stone within white fence in front of white, vacant house – the most aesthetically pleasing stone on the NE side
* NE 6 and NE 9 are fully enclosed in private front yards; we tried to remain inconspicuous to the family sitting on the floor with the front door wide open trying to stay cool in the heat as we leaned over their fence to snap the photo (NE 6)
* NE 7 sits in the very back of the Fort Lincoln Cemetery; coincidence that the temperature reached near that of the fiery pits of Hell as we roamed the cemetery paths?
* Finding a faucet to douse your head in cool water. Invaluable.
* Emerging from the woods, leaping a fence onto the side of Route 50 to the confused stares of passing motorists (the mile between NE 7 and 8 includes the cemetery, an arboretum, a golf course, a state park, the Anacostia and two highways – just begging for trespassing and Frogger). Sense of adventure (stupidity?) necessary.
* Side of the road BBQ in the parking lot of Sammy’s Liquors. Who knew mac & cheese, pork and beans, and potato salad were vegetables?
* Approximately 20 Not In Service buses!
* Celebratory beer at Wonderland
Time elapsed from boarding S2 bus in search of first stone to disembarking at Columbia Heights metro after visiting last stone of the day: ~8.5 hours
Time between NE 7 and NE 8: ~3 hours
Total miles covered: ~15
Number steps taken: ~33,000
High temperature for the day: 93 degrees
Liters of water consumed: 4
Number boundary stones photographed (damn you, elusive NE 8!): 9
One quarter down, three to go!