DC Boundary Stones Round Three: SW – The Virginia Difference by Vaughn and Amelia


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

On Sunday, November 22, after a two-month hiatus, we resumed our trek around the DC border. We stuck to the original boundary, which adheres to Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 of the U.S. Constitution, setting aside a 10 mile square for the nation’s capital (so said one of the historic marker signs, though it seems to actually be Clause 17: http://www.house.gov/house/Constitution/Constitution.html). Having already covered the NE and SE quadrants, this time we found ourselves covering the SW perimeter, technically Virginia these days. The land south of the Potomac used to belong to Virginia, became part of DC following the Revolutionary War, and was returned to Virginia by Congress in 1846.

Because the SW boundary is no longer a DC border, this was not the most “as the crow flies” walk. However, King St. functioned somewhat as our guiding road, as Eastern Ave. did for the NE border and Southern Ave. did in SE.

The trek started out on a decisive high point, as the first stone is tucked in the middle of the retaining seawall of the Jones Point Lighthouse. The stone is much more interesting than the dinky lighthouse, and can either be viewed through a round hole bored through the top of the wall, or by lying on one’s belly, hanging over the edge, and peering at the stone upside down through a gate.


What sets these ten stones apart from the other quadrants is the signage. Virginia loves to surround its boundary stones with signs. Although most of the stones were not in their original locations, had been hit by cars, and/or run over by plows, the plaques for each stone were much better preserved than on our previous two walks. Winning the title of cheesiest sign on the walk and hung next to a stone in a school parking lot, a groan-worthy saying contrasts Arlington’s old limits with its students’ boundless horizons.


Stay tuned for the final quadrant, and a special guest trekker- PoP!

Items of note:

– At a couple points throughout the walk, we saw signs for the Virginia Bird and Wildlife trails. Curiously, the signs feature a picture of a mountain, a bird, and a bear. We ask you: How many wild bears are there in NoVa? And why willingly take a stroll along a path with prominent advertisements for bears?

– Each stone is preserved by a different chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution: Mt. Vernon Chapter, Colonel John Washington Chapter, Keystone Chapter, Dr. Elisha Dick Chapter, Fairfax County Chapter, etc.

– Despite the prolific signage, SW-9 is the only stone that dons an official “National Historic Landmark” marker, although they are all federal monuments. The sign reads, “This site possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.” – 1980, Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, United States Department of the Interior

– This quadrant proved to have the most quaint houses and neighborhoods and didn’t make us play frogger across any highways. However, we did have to walk on a sidewalk set in the median of a busy road, and one of the stones was even set in a median!

By the numbers:

Stones found: All 10!
Times children screamed “Jesus loves you!” out their car window at us: 1
VA Bird and Wildlife Trail signs (with bears on them): 2
Discarded mattresses: 0
American flags on houses: too many to count


16 Comment

  • Emmaleigh504

    I love these posts! Thank you!

  • How many wild bears are there in NoVa?

    Answer: 6

  • The link to the first installment is just going to the comments and not the piece itself (which I didn’t read and would like to read…por favor!).

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @Stones I just clicked the link and it went to the piece itself.

  • If they’re going to fly a flag, better it be the American flag than Confederate flag, I reckon.

  • Daggnabbit…just tried again and all I get are the photos and the comments…we’ll chalk this up to operator error on my end and I’ll look through the archives for it. Thanks though!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @Stones. Yikes. It’s not just you. I’m so sorry, I have no idea what happened. It must’ve got lost when I transitioned the site. I’ll try and find the text and repost it!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @stones, fixed it! Sorry again about the confusion.

  • Re bears: there is a fairly healthy black bear population in NoVa in places. I’ve seen several over the years in Shenandoah National Park, for example. Black bears are generally shy and rather small, not the raging grizzlies you might have in mind. Of course, they’ll still hurt you if given reason I am sure, but you usually see them running away.

  • Yeah! Thanks PoP…I have now read all three installments, am looking forward to number 4 and thinking that this might be fun to do as well…

  • While I enjoyed reading the article, I was shocked and saddened by the top photo, which includes an inordinate amount of garbage floating in the river. From the looks of it, most of those items could have been recycled. PLEASE recycle or your waste will continue to end up polluting our rivers and waterways.

  • You new to area, Hoot? Litter is the local flora.

  • Love that southern stone.

    I took a friend to see it and the water may have been out because she was able to get out there without getting wet at all (you just have to walk north along the shore – i.e. toward the person taking the picture)

  • @Hoot: The trash was disheartening for us, as well. Overall this SW walk was by far the cleanest in terms of litter on the streets, but the water did not fare as well.

  • Vaughn is a Brown bear herself… GRRRR

  • I like that there are more pictures! What will you do once you’ve finished your final portion of the journey? Start a new adventure to blog about?

Comments are closed.