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Special day at Washington's Birthplace to be both a reunion and dedication of new/old bridge
Brandon Bowie (left), and his dad, Larry, work on a footbridge at George Washington's Birthplace.
PHOTOS BY PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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By Rob Hedelt
IT was already going to be
First, the staff had issued a call for past employees, volunteers, neighbors and others who have played a part in the memorial to the country's first president to return for a celebration that day.
Those folks were invited to bring their stories, pictures, memories and anything relating to the national monument that honors George Washington's beginnings, so they could be recorded, copied and saved as part of park lore.
But to make the day even more memorable, Park Superintendent Lucy Lawliss and staff took another step earlier this year to bring back history, joining forces with leaders of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and others to restore a unique feature--the extended walking bridge that was part of the 1930s commemoration of the birthplace of George Washington.
The footbridge, which once took visitors from the memorial area across Dancing Marsh to a log house and a system of trails there, was removed in the 1950s after a series of storms in the 1940s. Without the bridge, visitors who wanted to travel up and back between the Colonial-style house on the property and the trails faced a two-mile walk.
Construction of the new bridge, done by a crew from Colonial Beach, began in September and is expected to be finished either by the event or soon after. The cost is about $65,000.
The bulk of the funding comes from the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, but there's some park service money thrown in for good measure and $2,500 donation from a family that won the money after writing an essay explaining why Washington's Birthplace was special to them.
Kyle Hodges, manager of the Sears/Craftsman store in Tappahannock, handed over the money after winning an essay contest sponsored by his company, Lawliss said.
"The theme of the contest was about a place that was special for some reason, and Mr. Hodges chose George Washington's Birthplace," said Lawliss, noting that he and his family had volunteered and been connected with it through a 4-H organization that, among other things, allows youngsters to experience history in period costume.