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Washington, D.C.'s vanishing springs and waterways

January 1, 1994

This paper traces the disappearance or reduction of the many prominent springs and waterways that existed in Washington, D.C. , 200 years ago. The best known springs were the Smith Springs (now under the McMillan Reservoir), the Franklin Park Springs (13th and I Streets, NW.), Gibson 's Spring (15th and E Streets, NE.), Caffrey 's Spring (Ninth and F Streets, NW.), and the City Spring (C Street between Four and One-Half and Sixth Streets, NW.). Tiber Creek, flowing south to the Capitol and thence westward along Consititution Avenue, joined the Potomac River at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. In the 1800's, the Constitution Avenue reach was made into a canal which was used by scows and steamboats up to about 1850. The canal was changed into a covered sewer in the 1870's, and the only remaining visible surface remnant is the lock-keeper 's little stone house at 17th and Constitution Avenue, NW. Because of sedimentation problems and reclamation projects, Rock Creek, the Potomac River , and the Anacostia River are considerably narrower and shallower today than they were in colonial times. For example, the mouth of Rock Creek at one time was a wide, busy ship harbor , which Georgetown used for an extensive foreign trade, and the Potomac River shore originally extended to 17th and Constitution Avenue, NW. (Woodard-USGS)

Citation Information

Publication Year 1977
Title Washington, D.C.'s vanishing springs and waterways
DOI 10.3133/cir752
Authors Garnett P. Williams
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Circular
Series Number 752
Index ID cir752
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse