North Bethesda in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
"Alluvium" is an artwork by Jim Sanborn
John Smith 1612 AD "There is but one entrance by sea into this country, and that is at the mouth of a very goodly bay, 18 or 20 miles broad. The cape on the south is called Cape Henry, in honor of our most noble Prince. The land, while hilly sands like unto the Downs, and all along the shores rest plenty of pines and firs.
...Within is a country that may have the prerogative over the most pleasant places known, for large and pleasant navigable rivers, heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man's habitation.... The next day crossed Patawomeks river, and hasted to the river Bolus. We went not much further before we might see the Bay divide in two heads, and arriving there we found it divided into foure, all which we searched so farre as we would sayle them."
Drawn from: Captain John Smith of Willoughby's description of the Chesapeake Bay region, Alford, Lincolnshire, "Works," 1608-1631, Part II, 1895 Westminster.
Leonardo da Vinci 1580 AD "The Alps, and this may be seen, as I saw it,
Drawn from: The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, edited by Jean Paul Richter, 1880.
Etienne Brule 1616 AD "The climate there is temperate, and there is temperate, and there are great numbers of animals and abundance of small game. But to traverse and reach these regions requires patience, on account of the difficulties involved in passing the extensive wastes. He continued his course along the river as far as the sea, and to islands and lands near them, which are inhabited by various tribes and large numbers of savages, who are well disposed and love the French above all other nations...Among other things he observed that the winter was very temperate, that it snowed very rarely, and
Drawn from: Samuel Champlain's description of coastal Maryland, Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, Vol. III, 1611-1618, Boston: Prince Society, 1882.
John Lederer 1669 AD "Thus I travelled all the sixteenth; and on the seventeenth of March I reached the Apalataci. The Air here is very thick and chill; and the waters issuing from the Mountainsides, of a Blue colour, and Allumish taste. The eighteenth of March, after I had in vain assayed to ride up, I alighted, and left my horse with one of the Indians, whilst with the other two I climbed up the Rocks, which were so incumbred with bushes and brambles, that the ascent proved very difficult: besides, the first precipice was so steep, that if I look down, I was immediately taken with a swimming in my head; though afterwards the way was more easie. The height of this Mountain was very extraordinary; for notwithstanding I set out with the first appearance of light, it was late in the evening before I gained the top, from whence the next morning I had a beautiful prospect of the Atlantick-Ocean washing the Virginian-shore."
Drawn from: John Lederer's description of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Discoveries of John Lederer, And Other Parts of The Continent: 1672.
Aldo Leopold 1993 AD "Conservation is a state of harmony between
Drawn from: Round River, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
John Muir, 1894 AD "Westward, the general flank of the range is seen flowing sublimely away from the sharp summits, in smooth undulations; a sea of huge gray granite waves dotted with lakes and meadows, and fluted with stupendous canyons that grow steadily deeper as they recede in the distance. Below this gray region lies the dark forest zone, broken here and there by upswelling ridges and domes; and yet beyond lies a yellow, hazy belt, marking the broad plain of the San Joaquin, bounded on its farther side by the blue mountains of the coast.
Drawn from: Nature Writings of John Muir, page 360.
Wang Xizhi 300 BC "The place was one of mighty mountains and towering ridges covered with
Drawn from: The Orchid Pavilion Poems, 300 BC, Steven Owen, W.W. Norton 1911.
Thomas Jefferson 1789 AD "The passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge is, perhaps, one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Potomac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction, they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass of to the sea. The first glance of this scene hurries our sense into the opinion, that this earth has been created in time, that the mountains were formed first, that the rivers began to flow afterwards, that in this place, particularly, they have been dammed up by the Blue Ridge of mountains, and have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that continuing to rise they have at length broken over at this spot, and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base."
Drawn from: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being His Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses and Other Writings, Official and Private, University of Michigan, H.W. Derby, 1859.
Benjamin C. Howard 1832 AD "The breaking of the Potomac through the granite ridge, at the Great Falls, presents, at first sight, difficulties of the greatest magnitude. The river gradually narrows its channel as it approaches its perpendicular pitch. At this point, and a little below, the width does not exceed one hundred yards, at a moderate state of the stream. Here the perpendicular rock, 60 or 70 feet high, forming the banks, the deep water at their foot, the violence and great rise of the freshets, render truly appalling the idea of supporting a canal along this pass by means of walls. Most happily, there is not necessity for such a plan; a ravine, or rather two ravines, which can be rendered continuous by comparatively little labor, extended for the who distance between what is termed Bear island and the high bluffs forming the Maryland shore."
Drawn from: U.S. Congress Select Committee on Internal Improvements, Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons, Select Committee on Steam Carriages, 1832.
Diodorus of Sicily 300 BC "The land of the Indians has also many large navigable rivers which have their sources in the mountains lying to the north and then flow through the level country; and not a few of these unite and empty into the river known as the Ganges. This river, which is thirty stades in width, flows from north to south and empties into the ocean, forming the boundary towards the east of the tribe of the Gandaridae, which possesses the greatest number of elephants and the largest in size. Consequently no foreign king has ever subdued this country.
Translator: C.H. Oldfather, Harvard, Loebs.
Pliny 79 AD "Some writers class as 'pyrites' yet another kind of stone that contains a great quantity of fire. Stones known as 'live stones' are extremely heavy and are indispensable to reconnaissance parties preparing a camp-site. When struck with a nail or another stone they give off a spark, and if this is caught on sulphur or dry fungi or leaves it produces a flame instantaneously.
Drawn from: Pliny's description of white flint in Natural History, Harvard, Loebs.
Translator: D.E. Eichholz.
Thomas Jefferson 1787 AD "At Marseilles, they told me I should encounter the rice fields of Piedmont soon after crossing the Alps. Tomorrow, I set out on my passage over the alps, being to pursue it ninety-three miles on Coni, on mules, as the snows are not yet enough melted to admit carriages to pass....From the foot of the mountain to Coni, the road follows a branch of the Po, the plains of which begin narrow, and widen at length into a general plain country, bounded on one side by the Alps. They are good, dark colored, sometimes tinged with red, and in pasture, corn, mulberries and some almonds. The hill sides bordering these plains, are reddish, and where they admit of it, are in corn; but this is seldom. They are mostly in chestnut, and often barren. The whole of the plains are plentifully watered from the river, as is much of the hill side. A great deal of golden willow all along the rivers, on the whole of this passage through the Alps.
Drawn from: Thomas Jefferson's description of the Italian Alps and Piedmont, Memoir, Correspondence and Mescellanies: from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. II, ed. Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Charlottesville: pub. F. Carr and Co., 1828.
L.H. De Biedma 1544 AD "Discovering that we could not prevail against the difficulty, we returned to the southeast, and went to a Province that is called Quipana, at the base of some very steep ridges; whence we journeyed in a direction to the east, and, having crossed those mountains, went down upon some plains, where we found a population suited to our purpose, for there was a town nigh in which was much food, seated by a copious river emptying into the Rio Grande, from whence we came. The Province was called Viranque. We stopped in it to pass the winter. There was so much snow and cold, we thought to have perished. At this town the Christian died whom we had found in the country belonging to the people of Narvaez, and who was our interpreter. We went out thence in the beginning of March, when it appeared to us that the severity of the winter had passed; and we followed down the course of this river.
Drawn from: Relation of the Conquest of Florida, presented by Loys Hernandez De Biedma in the year 1544 to King of Spain in Council.
George Alsop 1666 AD "Maryland is a Province situated upon the large extending bowels of America, under the Government of the Lord Baltimore, adjacent Northwardly upon the Confines of New-England, and neighbouring Southewardly upon Virginia, dwelling pleasantly upon the Bay of Chesapeake, between the Degrees of 36 and 38, in the zone temperate, and by Mathematical computation is eleven hundred and odd Leagues in Longitude from England, being within her own imbraces extraordinary pleasant and fertile. Pleasant, in respect of the multitude of Navigable Rivers and Creeks that conveniently and most profitably lodge within the armes of her green, spreading, and delightful Woods; whose natural womb (by her plenty) maintains and preserves the several diversities of Animals that rangingly inhabit her Woods; as she doth otherwise generously fructifie this piece of Earth with almost all sorts of Vegetables, as well Flowers with their varieties of colours and smells, as Herbes and Roots with their several effects and operative virtues, and that offer their benefits daily to supply the want of the Inhabitant whene're their necessities shall Sub-poena them to wait on their commands.
Drawn from: A Character of the Province of Maryland, George Alsop, 1666.
Joseph Wet Moore 1887 AD "The Potomac rises in a spur of the Alleghany Mountains, and several streams are combined with it in its downward course. Forty-seven miles below the gap at Harper's Ferry, where the river bursts through the mountains, are the Great Falls, formed by the waters impetuously forcing a passage through a stupendous ridge of granite which here restrains the current from side to side. The river gradually narrows as it approaches the barrier, until it is only about three hundred feet wide, and then with a mighty effort rushes over the granite walls, making a descent of forty feet into hollow rocks. It then continues its course with amazing velocity, dropping foot by foot in a series of cascades, until its 'perpendicular pitch' is eighty feet in a distance of about two miles. On the Virginia shore huge masses of rock stretch upward for seventy feet, and on the Maryland shore are ledges and boulders, over which the waters dash in great billows of foam."
Drawn from: Picturesque Washington by Joseph West Moore, 1887.
Lewis & Clark 1805 AD "Here the hills on the north which had withdrawn from the bank closely borer the river, which, for the space of three hundred and twenty poles, makes its way over the rocks with a descent of thirty feet: in this course the current is contracted to five hundred and eighty yards, and after throwing itself over a small pitch of five feet, forms a beautiful cascade of twenty-six feet five inches; this does not however fall immediately perpendicular, being stopped by a part of the rock which projects at about one third of the distance. After descending this fall, and passing the cotton-wood island on which the eagle has fixed its nest, the river goes on for five hundred and thirty-two poles over rapids and little falls, the estimated descent of which is thirteen feet six inches till it is joined by a large fountain boiling up underneath the rocks near the edge of the river, into which it falls with a cascade of eight feet.
Drawn from: Lewis and Clark's description of a river falls, History of the Expedition Under the Commands of Captains Lewis and Clark, the Biddle Edition of 1814.
Thomas Jefferson 1789 AD "The reflections I was led into on viewing this passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge were, that this country must have suffered some violent convulsion, and that the face of it must have been changed from what it probably was some centuries ago; that the broken and ragged faces of the mountain on each side of the river; the tremendous rocks, which are left with one end fixed in the precipice and the other jutting out, and seemingly ready to fall for want of support, the bed of the river for several miles below your eye evidently demonstrates a disrupture and breach in the mountain, and that, before this happened what is new a fruitful vale, was formerly a great lake or collection of water, which possibly might have here formed a mighty cascade, or had its vent to the ocean by the Susquehana, where the Blue Ridge seems to terminate."
Drawn from: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being His Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private, University of Michigan, H.W. Derby, 1859.
Public Art Program 2007
Erected by The JBG Companies.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Environment • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #03 Thomas Jefferson series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1612.
Location. 39° 2.57′ N, 77° 6.693′ W. Marker is in North Bethesda, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from Rockville Pike (Maryland Route 355) south of Executive Boulevard, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 11412 Rockville Pike, Rockville MD 20852, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 11333 Woodglen Drive (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Maryland: Confederate or Union State? (approx. 0.4 miles away); How Did Josiah Henson Help Free Enslaved People? (approx. half a mile away); Who Was Josiah Henson? (approx. half a mile away); Whose House Was This? (approx. half a mile away); Preserving the Riley-Bolten House (approx. half a mile away); Josiah Henson (approx. half a mile away); Farm Road Bed (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in North Bethesda.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 27, 2019. It was originally submitted on February 8, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 172 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 8, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.