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New dock could bring boaters back to Colonial Farm


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Photo by Tauren Dyson. The Accokeek Foundation opened a new boat dock near the National Colonial Farm.

Photo by Tauren Dyson. The Accokeek Foundation opened a new boat dock near the National Colonial Farm.

Published on: Tuesday, July 02, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

The Accokeek Foundation opened a new boat dock off the shore of the National Colonial Farm in Accokeek on June 22. The dock gives boaters a new opportunity to experience old historic treasures.

“It allows boaters who are already on the river to come and dock here and enjoy the grounds,” said Anjela Barnes, Accokeek Foundation communication director. “Maybe (they will) go through the colonial history farm and learn a little bit about the culture of the area.”

The Colonial Farm, a Revolutionary War haunt with ties to slavery and early Native American culture, shares Piscataway National Park with an organic farm, “heritage breed livestock,” a tree arboretum, and a matrix of hiking trails that weave through area wetlands. This eco-historic scene is one many in the area wish to maintain.

Located in Piscataway National Park, the Accokeek Foundation sits on the bank of the Potomac. It preserves and sustains more than 200 acres of land, including National Colonial Farm. The organization’s goal is to maintain a bucolic sightline for the visitors across the Potomac in Virginia at Mount Vernon.

“Just being aware of when subdivisions come up to be built,” said Eric Benson, Mount Vernon geographic information systems manager. “Would that new construction be able to be seen above the trees on this side and would that effect our view on the other side of the river?”

Benson said the opening of the boat dock could help reconnect boaters with the two contrasting histories of Mount Vernon and the Colonial Farm.

“This right here represents a low-class type farm, where as Washington (Mount Vernon) represents the elite, the extreme high end,” Benson said. “It really gives people a picture of that historic farm type thing.”

In recent history, Mount Vernon and the Colonial Farm have shared another connection. In 2003, before the farm’s last dock was swept away by Hurricane Isabel, a boat tour connected the two locations. Mount Vernon remains a popular tourist attraction, but the Colonial Farm suffers from seclusion.

“The whole point of it is to get people to know where we are,” said Dave Jackson, Accokeek Foundation maintenance assistant. “There (are) people that live five miles away from us, (and) never heard of us.”

Not everyone sees the farm as a historical destination, but a starting point for new discoveries.

Whit Overstreet pulled up to the new dock in his Parker 2120 powerboat. He works as the advocacy and outreach manager for Potomac Riverkeeper, a group dedicated to protecting water quality. He is also an avid boater who hopes others will use the boat dock as a launching point for new journeys.

“I definitely hope it makes people come here not just for the historic resources or the agricultural education, but they also come here to access the river,” Overstreet said. “Maybe have this be a point from which people start exploring the Potomac.”

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