"The best scenery lies beyond the city, especially in the neighborhood of Cabin John Creek…"
Report of the McMillan Commission, 1902.
In the late 19th century the scenery and climate were so renowned that people traveled from distant points seeking the serenity and pleasures that Cabin John offered. They came for the fishing and to view the largest stone arch in the world, an engineering marvel by the standards of any era. They came to spend a few days at the opulent Cabin John Bridge Hotel, enjoying some relief from Washington’s malarial summers. The rhododendron-filled valley of the Cabin John attracted bird-watchers from around the world. Then, as now, Cabin John was a destination for bicyclists taking advantage of the flat and relatively smooth Conduit Road along the palisades. But before that, people came here to work. They came in the 1820s to build the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the new nation’s most ambitious public works project. The area we now call Cabin John was known to the canal builders and boatmen as “Seven Locks.” In the 1850s when the city of Washington needed a secure source of fresh water, U.S. Army engineers came here to build the Union Arch to carry an aqueduct across the deep Cabin John Creek valley.
These two unprecedented engineering
The place where you now stand as shown in a 1917 map [above]. The hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1931, and part of the creek valley was paved over in the 1960s. The Cabin John Bridge still supplies water to the city, and the C&O Canal is now a National Park.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
There are more switch locks in the vicinity of Cabin John than any place else in the 185-mile waterway. The canal rises high above the river here to lift the canal to the level of an old streambed. The concentration of locks created a community of lockkeepers and center of activity along this stretch of the canal. Seven Locks Road linked local farms and commerce to the canal.
The Canal is accessible by a footpath that begins near the opposite side of the Cabin John Bridge.
The Cabin John Bridge
Also called the Union Arch Bridge, it is a landmark of engineering achievement. It encloses a ten-foot diameter brick aqueduct that has supplied drinking water to the city of Washington since 1863. When completed, it was the longest stone arch in the world. Employing the same basic technology as Roman aqueducts, the Union Arch will outlast most of the “permanent”
The image above is a detail of the china pattern used at the Cabin John Bridge Hotel.
The Cabin John Bridge Hotel
The Bobinger brothers' hotel was very nearly as fanciful as the advertising illustration, above. The hotel was located on the site of the Cabin John Gardens community (named for the extensive gardens of the hotel), about fifty feet from where you now stand. The hotel emerged as a palace of the Gilded Age, then declined and became a casualty of Prohibition and changed styles. It was destroyed by a fire in 1931.
Erected 2001 by Cabin John Citizens Association.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Bridges & Viaducts • Industry & Commerce • Parks & Recreational Areas • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal series list.
Location. 38° 58.358′ N, 77° 8.979′ W. Marker is in Cabin John, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is on MacArthur Boulevard, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7400 MacArthur Blvd, Cabin John MD 20818, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "…an extravagant expression of Victorian romanticism." (here, next to this marker); Building The Cabin John Bridge
More about this marker. In the upper left side of the marker is a photo captioned, Cabin John and the Cabin John Bridge were once prominent on the circuit of sights in Washington. There were many postcards depicting the bridge. To the upper right is a map showing locations discussed in the text. The place where you now stand as shown in a 1917 map. The hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1931, and part of the creek valley was paved over in the 1960s. The Cabin John Bridge still supplies water to the city of Washington, and the C&O Canal is now a National Park. Illustrations in the center show the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Cabin John Bridge Hotel. In the lower left is a photo with the caption, The Cabin John Bridge was the gateway to our community long before the first traffic jam. This is the view from the Glen Echo side, with the Cabin John Hotel and its complex of service buildings visible. And in the lower right is a photo illustrating A view of the place where you now stand as seen from one of the upper balconies of the Cabin John Hotel.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 8, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 8, 2021, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 45 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 11, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.