DC Boundary Stones Round Two: The Southeast Border by Vaughn and Amelia


You can read Vaughn and Amelia’s first journey here.

According to legend, “[Benjamin] Banneker fixed the position of the first stone by lying on his back to find the exact starting point for the survey … and plotting six stars as they crossed his spot at a particular time of night.” Hard to imagine in this “there’s an app for that” world, but Banneker’s coordinates-by-stars approach cut an admirably straight path, with stones exactly one mile apart (verified by Google Maps!).  The East boundary stone was one of our most eagerly anticipated stones because it lies at the intersection of Eastern and Southern Avenues, where Eastern continues east no longer, and Southern goes no farther north.  From here on out, the SE stones are almost all right on Southern Ave., which made finding them pretty straightforward.  (www.boundarystones.org)

For this boundary stone installation, we flaunted our stone-location prowess for our guest trekker, Amelia’s girlfriend from Brooklyn.  All went smoothly until SE 4, which is not lost, but rather–according to boundary stone lore–in the garage of a Mr. David Doyle. Doyle was an employee of the National Geodetic survey, a member of Maryland Society of Surveyors and District of Columbia Association of Land Surveyors, and the geodetic survey liaison for the city of Washington.  The stone was recovered by surveyors, and he felt that he was best suited to reset it accurately.  Too bad that was in 1991!  Mr. Doyle, if you’re out there and reading- we would like to visit all the stones and would appreciate it if NE 4 were to stop collecting dust in your garage and be returned to its proper location!

Our saga ended on a bit of an “ehhhhh” note, as we could not find SE 8 and couldn’t even get within spitting distance of SE 9.  SE 8 is apparently buried at the bottom of a concrete pipe in the corner of an impound lot.  We couldn’t find the pipe, but we did find a well-populated impound lot, filled with cars, vans, and a vast array of construction equipment.  SE 9 is supposedly on a “sandy beach with many car tires” down by the Potomac.  Lack of car and/or military IDs to get us through the naval research center thwarted our efforts to reach our final stone of the day.  

Some takeaways and a question from SE:

  • Although NE had delicious BBQ in a liquor store parking lot, we found the best named BBQ truck in SE: Fat Face BBQ
  • SE felt very suburban, practically sylvan at times – we saw two deer (and too many species of bugs to count)!
  • SE seems to be home to the nicest men over 40 years old.  Women, children, and teenagers were exactly as expected, but every single older man smiled and greeted us when we passed.
  • How the hell does one get a backhoe impounded?      
  • There’s a truly surreal intersection of properties in SE, including: the Police Science Institute, with K-9 training facility; DC Fire/EMS Training Academy, equipped with cars and even a building ready to be burned for practice and a veritable race course for fire engines; Potomac Job Corps Center; the U.S. Botanic Gardens production facility, with some monster greenhouses; and the Senate furniture warehouse.
  • Worst name for a church ever: Master’s Touch Praise Ministries (with Children’s Touch next door)
  • Best name for a church ever (mostly because of the utterly impractical acronym): T.B.P.G.C.O.G.: True Believer’s Pentecostal Glorious Church of God
  • By the numbers:

  • Miles walked = ~14

  • Steps taken = ~30,800
  • Stones found: 7

  • Abandoned mattresses: 10

  • Deer: 2

 Despite only observing 7/10 stones, we’re psyched to tackle the SW border.  Due to a busy work travel season, however, we won’t be able to complete the third leg of our adventure until November.  See you then!


18 Comment

  • This is so cool!

    Let’s Go Red Sox ch ch chchch

  • Way to go – stand on that old stone and try to break it… Sheesh! I guess this is why we have to rope-off and fence-off nice things.

    And how, exactly, did the women, children, and teenagers of Southeast DC act “as expected?”

  • just a note: the DC EMS and fire training areas, and the impound lots, are in southwest, not southeast.

    and is it OK to stand on the stones? don’t you worry about breaking off any of what’s carved in at the top of them?

  • I don’t think it’s likely the stone is going to break under the weight of that tiny woman.

  • Awesome history. (sniff) I voted for Banneker on our quarter.

  • You only think the mattresses are abandoned, they are actually small business venues.

  • Thanks for another fun & interesting report – you guys should be doing some freelance feature writing – seriously, you’re better than most of the recent features in the Post.

  • “As expected” probably means ghetto or worse. There are nice communities in Southeast, but overall it has earned the bad pub it gets.

  • CH Resident: What are the “nice communities” in Southeast? Thanks…

  • To clarify: “as expected” means no eye contact and no words exchanged, like most people, myself included (not ghetto, or worse – although some ladies did give us the stinkeye). But all the older men were super friendly.

    Thanks to IMGoph for the correction; I guess it’s technically SW, but it lies along the original SE boundary line: http://boundarystones.org/view.php?stone=SE8

    Lastly, my reverence for historic things was overcome by my excitement at getting so close. The stone was, in fact, damaged last year so that it’s in two parts, disconnected at ground level, but I’m pretty sure I caused it no additional harm. DAR needs to put up a new fence.

  • Hey you, with the “not-so-ridonk” body, get off the stone before you break it.

    Awesome report, as always…or as both times.

  • Nice report. Stunning how many residents of our fair city have literally never set foot in Ward 8. Driven through, maybe, but walked? Very, very few. Good on ya!

  • Another great read. Thanks for this latest installment. We don’t think over 40 is very old. Wait till you get there ……..Hahahaha

  • i would like to give a special shout-out to the first paragraph’s third sentence’s penultimate word: “farther.” if you had written “further,” my panties may have bunched up more than all those 12-year-olds bloggers who post things like, “OMGz u GUYSSSS its YOU’RE not YOUR omg u r stooooooopidx10 omg bff btw ftw n00b pwn omgz.”

    thanks for indulging that tangent.

    anyway, rockin’ post.

  • More pictures, please!

  • YEAH — Go Seahawks

  • SE9 is possible without a car but its a long long walk and you have to go under the highway. And its not on the beach but among the trees.

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