Northern Virginia Boundary Stones Committee: 1994-1995 Findings and Recommendations of the Northern Virginia Boundary Stones Committee (Sep. 1995).

The Northern Virginia Boundary Stones Committee (NOVABOSTCO) was established at the request of the Northern Virginia Planning District Commission, and worked from 17 March 1994 to 28 August 1995 to come up with a list of recommendations to document and preserve the 14 DC boundary stones located in Virginia. The committee included representatives from Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria City, Falls Church City, and Maryland. The NOVABOSTCO report is available at the the Fairfax County Library main branch [VREF 975.5 N 1995]. The report includes a number of reports on the stones, including:

(1): historical information from a National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for 12 of the 14 Virginia stones;

(2): Shackleford, Michael G. and David R. Doyle, "GPS Resurvey of the D.C. Boundary Stones," American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (June 1990) [note: the article states, "due to the many obstructions around the monuments, only about 10 of the boundary stones can be positioned directly by GPS methods" apparently because GPS equipment in 1990 was so large, bulky, and difficult to maneuver!];

(3) several large fold-out charts/tables showing locations (street addresses), owners, description and condition of the stones and the DAR fences--very detailed information;

(4) a summary status report on the stones from a committee survey on 20 July 1994;

(5) McGee, Elaine S., "Federal District Boundary Markers in Northern Virginia: Condition and Preservation Issues," Open-File Report 94-592, Dept. of the Interior, USGS (1994);

(6) photos (extremely bad quality, multi-generation photocopy versions) of some of the stones, including the photos from Frederick E. Woodward's articles; and

(7) two fairly extensive bibliographies.

The NOVABOSTCO report provides the following conclusions about the 14 DC boundary stones in Virginia:

Ten stones are believed to be those originally placed in 1791: S[outh] C[orner] was replaced in 1794; the stump of SW4 may be part of an original stone, but the stump of SW5 may not be; and SW2 is not an original stone.

Eight stones appear to be in their original position and orientation, but the other six (SW1, SW2, SW4, SW5, SW6, and SW8) have all been moved; in the 1890s, NW3 was discovered broken and believed reassembled in its original position.

Five stones are completely on private property and one is partly on private property, four are in jurisdictional right-of-ways (ROW), one in VDOT ROW, two in multi-jurisdictional public parks, and one is owned by the NPS.

Eleven stones are generally accessible, and two on private property have limited access, and SC is very difficult to view.

Only three stones (SW1, SW9, and NW3) are rated in good shape, nine are in fair to poor condition, and two (SW4 and SW5) are only stumps.

Only three stones (SW1, SW9, and NW3) have completely or nearly completely visible inscriptions, eight stones exhibit some or few words, and three (SW2, SW4, and SW5) show none . . . .


I. Bibliography for the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, DC Boundary Stones in Virginia (submitted 1990):

Baker, Marcus. "The Boundary Monuments of the District of Columbia." Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Vol. 1 (1897): 215-224.

Chase, Louise Coflin. "Boundary Stones of the District of Columbia." Manuscript on file, Washingtonian Collection, District of Columbia Public Library. (1930).

Columbia Historical Society. "The Writings of George Washington Relating to the National Capital." Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Vol. 17 (1914): 4-7.

Lawrence, Kenneth D. "Letter from Kenneth D. Lawrence to Mr. Stuntz." Manuscript on file, Virginia Collection Files, Fairfax County Public Library. 1967.

National Capital Planning Commission. Boundary Markers of the Nation's Capital. (1976).

Nye, Edwin Darby. "Boundary Stones." The Washington Star Sunday Magazine. (June 23, 1963).

Nye, Edwin Darby. "Revisiting Washington's Forty Boundary Stones, 1972." Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Vol. 48 (1973): 740-751.

Proctor, John Claggett. "Proctor's Washington and Environs." (1949).

Robinson, June. "The Arlington Boundary Stones." Arlington Historical Magazine. (October 1989): 5-19.

Shuster, Ernest A., Jr. "The Original Boundary Stones of the District of Columbia." The National Geographic Magazine, Vol XX (April 1909): 356-359.

Statutes at Large and Treaties of the United States of America From December 1, 1945 to March 3, 1851. Vol. IX (1862): 35-37.

Terman, Mark J. "The 'Jurisdiction Stones' and Cornerstone Park." Manuscript on file in Virginia Collection, Falls Church Public Library. (1972).

Waters, Frances W. and Lt. Col. Robert P. "The Boundary Stones." Manuscript on file, Thomas Nelson Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Arlington, Virginia. (1963).

Woodward, Fred. E. "A Ramble Along The Boundary Stones of the District of Columbia with A Camera." Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Vol. 10 (1907): 63-87.

Woodward, Fred. E. "With A Camera Over The Old District Boundary Lines." Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Vol. 11 (1908): 1-15.


II. Bibliography from Elaine S. McGee, "Federal District Boundary Markers in Northern Virginia: Condition and Preservation Issues," Open-File Report 94-592, Dept. of the Interior, USGS (1994)

McGee, Elaine S. and Woodruff, Mary E., 1992, "Characteristics and Weathering Features of Sandstone Quoins at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland." U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report, 92-541, 10p.

Moore, John E. and Jackson, Julia A. (eds.), 1989, "Boundary Stones of the District of Columbia." in Geology, Hydrology, and History of the Washington, DC Area. American Geological Institute. Alexandria, Virginia. 114p.

National Capital Planning Commission, 1976, "Boundary Markers of the Nation's Capital: A Proposal for Their Preservation and Protection." National Capital Planning Commission Bicentennial Report, Washington, D.C. 45p.

Preservation Assistance Division of the U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service, 1989, "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. O-230-394, 59p.

Terman, Mark J., 1972, "The 'Jurisdiction Stones' and Cornerstone Park." Unpublished manuscript; copy available at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library in Falls Church, Virginia.

Terman, Mark J. and Terman, Maurice J., 1972, "The 'Jurisdiction Stones' and Cornerstone Park." Echos of History, v. 11, n. 1, p. 1, 14-16.

U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service, 1992, "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties 1992. U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service. Cultural Resources and Preservation Assistance publication.

Withington, Charles F., 1975, "Building Stones of our Nation's Capital." U.S. Geological Survey, INF 74-35, 44p.

Woodward, Fred E., 1908, "With a camera over the old District boundary lines." Columbia Historical Society, Records, v. 11, p. 1-15.


National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

SW1:
In approximately 1904, it was dug up and carried to the edge of the field, about 225 feet from its proper location; in 1906 it was found lying on the ground. At some point later, it was placed upright and rotated from its correct positioning. The letters are smaller than those of the other stones and are in a different script. The speculation is that a different stone carver carved this stone than carved all the rest of the stones.

SW2:
In both the surveys done in 1894-97 and 1906, the original stone could not be found. It was apparently placed on the east side of and very close to the Alexandria and Leesburg turnpike, on the eastern slope of Shuter's Hill, in a subdivision known, in 1906, as Spring Park, and within a stone's throw of Fort Ellsworth, built by federal forces in May 1861. When the inquiry was made in 1906, there were a number of workmen carting away loam and gravel for new roads. The road foreman said a strange condition was known to exist there, called 'creeping down hill', a movement of the surface of the earth, which may have had something to do with the loss of the stone. In 1921, the annual report of Mount Vernon Chapter to the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution states that the stone was relocated and fenced in 1920. It is believed that the relocated stone was not the original stone but was the replica that stands within the fence today. Due to its size, shape and total lack of inscriptions, the stone is obviously not the original. The stone was indicated on a 1927 aerial survey map located in the archives of the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Another source indicates that the marker was there in 1929. Although not original, this stone has marked the area of the second mile stone for approximately seventy years.

SW3:
This marker was the first marker placed at other than equal miles from the other markers. The end of the mile would have ended in a ravine, so it was placed on higher ground, less than three miles from the South Cornerstone. The inscription was listed as 2 miles 302p, which means it was placed 2 miles and 302 poles or rods from the South Cornerstone.

SW4:
In the early surveys of 1894-1897 and 1906, the entire top of this stone was missing, and remains missing today. It had what appeared to be plow marks on it. In 1906, it was located with the help [of] a farmer who said, "By gum. I've run the plow into that stone times enough to know where it is." It was in the immediate vicinity of three federal forts marking the line of the defenses of the District of Columbia in the Civil War. Later, it was almost buried when Route 7 was regraded.

SW5:
In the early surveys of 1984-97 and 1906, the entire top of this stone was missing, and remains missing today. It was moved approximately 44.90' from its original location.

[text missing]

SW6:
. . . Poles, which means it was placed 5 miles and 304 poles or rods from the South Cornerstone.

Its wrought iron fence, placed in 1916, was gone by 1949, when the stone sat on the edge of a large gravel pit.

Threatened by construction of roads and apartments, the stone was removed and stored by Arlington County for three years. It was then placed in the middle of a median strip on South Jefferson Street, this being the closest public land next to its original site. It was given a new iron fence and rededicated in its new location in June 1965.

In December 1989 this stone was hit and broken; its fence was also broken. In response to calls from members of the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution, Arlington County personnel picked up the stone so that it would not be further broken or lost. The stone sat on an Arlington County truck for a month, until the weather warmed up enough to repair the stone and fence. Arlington County personnel did the necessary repairs.

SW7:
In the early survey of 1906, the stone showed scars from bullets or grapeshot. It was close to Fort Ramsay and Fort Buffalo, which may account for the scars. Apparently the markers were used for target practice during the Civil War.

SW8:
In the survey of 1894-97 it was missing; Mr. Morgan Steeves, a resident of Falls Church for forty years, said it stood near the road on the side of Throckmorton or Upton Hill, fell into a caving bank, lay there where it fell, and finally disappeared in the 1880s. By 1906, it had been found and reset, although rotated and not in its proper location. Fort Ramsay occupied the western portion of the hill upon which the stone is placed.

West Corner:
It is, however, actually 10 miles and 230.6 feet from the South Cornerstone.

In the 1894-97 and 1906 surveys, it was badly broken, but the pieces were lying together.

The marker is only two feet high, the size of the intermediate stones, not three feet high as the north and east cornerstones are. The cornerstones were supposed to have been marked "Jurisdiction of the United States" vertically on one side, in contrast to the intermediate stones where the "Jurisdiction of the United States" being carved horizontally around two sides of the stone. This is the only stone so marked. Now worn away, on two of its beveled edges at the top, the "West Corner" was engraved, also unlike any of the other stones. Southeast #3 is a three foot stone, the size the East and North cornerstones are and the size that all the cornerstones were supposed to have been. It therefore appears that the present day West Cornerstone and the Southeast #3 stone were mixed up in 1791. This would also account for the fact of the two-sided horizontal writing, as the smaller size stone used as the West Cornerstone couldn't accommodate the vertical writing that was to have been carved on the cornerstones.

The marker has grooves on the top, indicating that the center of the stone is the corner of the District of Columbia.

NW1:
It was noted in the 1894-97 survey that part of the top was broken off.

NW2:
The 1894-97 survey noted that it was partially broken off with pieces being carried off to be used as whetstones. The words "of the" appear in italics for the first time, and continue to be in italics on the stones placed after NW2.

NW3:
In 1897 it was found broken off below the ground, with the broken part lying twenty to thirty feet from the base which was long buried and out of sight. It was thought to have been broken by an army wagon during the Civil War. Surveyors developing the water power at Little Falls diligently searched for the stump in 1894 and found it after much difficulty. The inscription reads 3 miles & 14 P, which means it was placed three miles and fourteen poles or rods from the West Cornerstone.