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No plan, for now, to link primary George Washington sites for tourists
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 7/12/2008
By RUSTY DENNEN
On an arc linking the Northern Neck, southern Stafford County and Alexandria are the three sites that tell George Washington's life story.
Popes Creek in Westmoreland County is his birthplace.
Thirty-eight miles west at Ferry Farm on the Rappahannock River in Stafford County is where he spent his formative boyhood years.
And about 45 miles to the north on the Potomac River at Mount Vernon, the nation's first president spent most of his adult life.
The discovery of the remains of Washington's boyhood home, announced last week at Ferry Farm off State Route 3, is likely to fuel more interest in all three historic sites.
But whether it will lead to a George Washington "history trail" remains to be seen.
For the droves of tourists who visit the sites each year, "There has long been a desire to connect [Washington's birthplace] to Mount Vernon. Now that we have all three pieces in place to link those sites" it makes more sense, said Philip Levy, the archaeology fellow at Ferry Farm and an associate professor of history and anthropology at the University of South Florida.
Levy said details of any such cooperative arrangement would have to be worked out.
John Hennessy, chief historian of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, said the recent discoveries at Ferry Farm are so significant that visitation there could, within a few years, easily rival that at the park's Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center. About 80,000 people visit there annually, and tens of thousands more visit nearby Marye's Heights and the Sunken Road without being counted at the center, he said.
Mount Vernon attracts about 1 million visitors annually; Washington's birthplace, 100,000. Ferry Farm had about 15,000 visitors last year.
"We don't see these sites as competitors," said Dennis J. Pogue, Mount Vernon's associate director for preservation. "We see it as reaching a larger audience.
"The importance of place is not to be discounted," he added--to be able to say, "This is where those events occurred."