Cruise the Potomac River
Perhaps the most famous catch-phrase for Washington D.C. found in political writing is “on the Potomac.” Although the headwaters of the Potomac are in West Virginia and Virgina, and the 383-mile river runs through Maryland to its mouth at Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac is most closely associated with the District of Columbia—the seat of national and world power–and the historic landmarks on the river’s banks, such as the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. All of Washington D.C. lies within the river’s basin.
The Potomac is known as “the Nation’s River” because of its reflection of American political history, from its formative years to the tragedy of the Civil War and the strategic planning and execution of the nation’s wars of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and countless events that have seized the public through the news media.
It was in the Potomac basin that first president of the United States George Washington was born and spent most of his life. In the nineteenth century, General Robert E. Lee twice crossed the Potomac River during the Civil War, which ended with the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, also in the Potomac basin. On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge, which crosses the Potomac near the stately Jefferson Memorial and the massive Pentagon, and landed in the freezing waters, killing all but five of the passengers.
The Potomac is named after the Algonquian tribe that inhabited the banks of the river and that was part of the Powhatan confederacy. The word Potomac is believed by some to mean “place where people trade” or “the place to which tribute is brought.” Today the Potomac could be said to mean the place where tax-payers protest the tributes they must pay to the federal government, or how they are spent.
From the Potomac River today, one can view cultural and historic landmarks such as The Kennedy Center, the Watergate Hotel, the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial, as well as the Pentagon. What better way is there to take in the beauty of this nation’s historic capitol than on a relaxing and stimulating OnBoard DC tour, including a boat cruise down the Potomac?