Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Long Story of The Jones Point Ropewalk
— Jones Point Park —
The Jones Point ropewalk was a two-story building with larger wheels than are pictured here, but the process of making rope was the same. Walking backward between two reels a spinner unwound lengths of hemp from around the waist and spun the fiber in each hand to create rope. A spinner could walk as much as 20 miles in a 10-hour workday.
Excavations at Jones Point revealed the remains of the ropewalk's foundations and a black stain down the middle—probably from the tar applied to cordage to resist rotting from seawater.
...every afternoon during the summer, it was the custom of the boys to go thither after school...to indulge in the luxury of a bath. They began to undress in the western part, and run naked through the long building...
At the entrance on the west there was a huge reel for rope, on which the boys used to stand and turn each other over, the rise
—Description of the abandoned Jones Point ropewalk, Academy Journal, June 3, 1873
With its windows all a-row,
Like the port-holes of a hulk,
Human spiders spin and spin,
Backward down their
threads so thin
Dropping, each a hempen bulk.
—Henry Worth Longfellow, 1859
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce.
Location. 38° 47.444′ N, 77° 2.515′ W. Marker is in Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Mount Vernon Trail. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 Jones Point Drive, Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Jones Point Lighthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Mistress Margaret Brent (within shouting distance of this marker); The Remarkable Margaret Brent (within shouting distance of this marker); D.C.'s First Building Block (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Nation's Capital Begins Here 1791-1793 (about 400 feet away); Who Owns the River? (about 400 feet away); The First People on Jones Point (about 500 feet away); World Wars to the Present (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Old Town.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 23, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 137 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 23, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.