Great Falls of the Potomac

One of the most sublime and majestic natural scenes in the Washington, D.C., area is undoubtedly Great Falls, particularly as seen from the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Located just north of the city, the area around the Falls has been a recreational attraction for at least a hundred years.

The Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad (GF&OD), originally founded in 1900, was a trolley line that began in Georgetown and provided service into nearby Virginia via the Aqueduct Bridge, predecessor to the current Key Bridge. In 1906, the trolley line was extended to Great Falls. For a round-trip fare of 35 cents, you could board the trolley, which ran every half hour, at the Aqueduct bridge station and go out to Great Falls to take in some beautiful scenery (going out on a platform to view the falls would set you back another nickel) or perhaps enjoy the picnic grounds, dance pavilion, and carousel. The railway and its successor went out of business during the Great Depression, and the park became a state park until it was turned over to the National Park Service in 1966.

The following postcard views all date to around 1910, when the falls were being served by the GF&OD.


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