Near Columbia Island in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Boundary Channel
George Washington Memorial Parkway
— National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —
England's King Charles I granted the entire Potomac River to Maryland in 1632. Four centuries later Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia were still arguing over their mutual boundary.
Alexander's Island was one controversial site. It was known for its "bogs and swamps and frogs." At low tide the island was attached to - and claimed by - Virginia. At high tide the Potomac River encircled it, making it part of the District of Columbia.
Tensions over Alexander's Island exploded in 1904. A group of enraged men carrying axes and sledgehammers raided the Alexander Island Race Track in an attempt to close it. The District of Columbia did not permit race track betting, while Virginia did.
In 1915 the Army Corps of Engineers began dredging the Potomac River. In the process they completely removed the swampy landmass that was Alexander's Island. In its place they created the Boundary Channel, which runs beneath this footbridge, and Columbia Island, which is visible across the channel from you.
In 1934 Congress determined that, while Alexander's Island had once definitely been part of Virginia, its destruction
The Boundary Channel and Columbia Island on a World War II era map.
A surveyor's map from 1794 shows the narrow bog that attached Alexander's Island to the Virginia shoreline.
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1632.
Location. 38° 52.713′ N, 77° 3.193′ W. Marker is near Columbia Island in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker can be reached from Boundary Channel Drive. The marker is on a deck before the footbridge that crosses over to Columbia Island and the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove. It can be reached from the large parking lot to the northeast of the Pentagon. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 104 Boundary Channel Drive, Arlington VA 22202, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Tomorrow is ours to win or lose (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Tomb of Remembrance (approx. 0.3 miles away in Virginia); Navy and Marine Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away); Building a Beautiful BridgeAn Engineering Marvel (approx. half a mile away); Canada's Gift to the United States (approx. 0.6 miles away); Air Mail (approx. 0.6 miles away); Victims of Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon (approx. 0.6 miles away in Virginia). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbia Island.
1. Location of the Marker
As discussed on the marker, the border of the District of Columbia and Virginia is on the shore of the Potomac River. Since the display is on a deck built over the river, it is legally, albeit barely, in the District, even though the attached parking lot is in Arlington, Virginia.
— Submitted May 31, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 31, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 13, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 273 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 31, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3, 4. submitted on October 13, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.