Navy Yard in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Marine Railway - Experimental Model Basin
In 1822 Commodore John Rogers designed and built the first marine railway in the United States. The purpose of the railway was to haul ships out of the water for repair or preservation of their hull. Before this time, ships needing hull repairs were hauled on shore at high tide and careened on their sides to expose half of the hull at a time. This first railway was demonstrated to a congressional group using 140 sailors to haul the Navy's new frigate Potomac out of the water. This so impressed the distinguished group watching, which included President James Monroe, that Rogers was asked to submit his designs to the Navy Department. Most recently the railway was used to maintain the Presidential yacht which berthed nearby. The cradle used to haul the vessels out of the water has been removed but the winch house is still standing at the head of the incline. (Located behind the model basin.)
Experimental Model Basin
In 1897-98 the model basin was designed and built under the supervision of Naval Constructor David Watson Taylor. Scale ship models were towed the length of the 470-foot basin while scientific and photographic equipment measured the effect of water on the hull. At the time of its completion, the basin was the largest and best equipped in the world and became the center of the Navy's
Location. 38° 52.406′ N, 76° 59.677′ W. Marker is in Navy Yard, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Sicard Street, SE and Dahlgren Avenue, SE, on the right when traveling south on Sicard Street, SE. Touch for map. Parking is restricted on the Navy Yard during business hours. Visitors without military identification are required to enter the Yard via the west entrance off M Street, SE. Drivers must obtain a visitor's pass and proceed to an authorized parking area as directed. Marker is in this post office area: Washington Navy Yard DC 20374, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. U.S. Experimental Model Basin (here, next to this marker); National Museum of the U.S. Navy (within shouting distance of this marker); Navy Department Library Willard Park (about 400 feet away); Naval Historical Foundation (about 400 feet away); Dudley Knox Center for Naval History (about 500 feet away); Washington Navy Yard Chapel (about 500 feet away); Leutze Park - Marine Corps Historical Center (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Navy Yard.
More about this marker. Photographs on the lower portion of the marker show the railway and the model basin as they appeared around 1900.
Categories. • Military • Notable Buildings • Science & Medicine •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 19, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,600 times since then and 14 times this year. Last updated on August 27, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 19, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.