D.C. February 11, 2017
The Abandoned Town Near Washington DC That Most People Stay Far, Far Away From
Did you know that hidden in Great Falls park there is a forgotten ghost town? The bizarre story of an abandoned town that never got a chance is one that will fascinate you. How can something so close to the district be so doomed? Here’s the story of Matildaville.
In the 1790s, "Light Horse" Harry Lee, a war hero and father of Robert E. Lee, went all in on some land near Potomac River’s Great Falls and signed a 900 year lease.
He named the town Matildaville in honor of his late wife. While Harry Lee had big visions for Matildaville, the town’s success hinged on the Potomac Canal.
And for a time, the town and the canal were a success. The town was home to the Patowmack Canal Company superintendent’s home, a grist mill, foundry, boarding houses, a saw mill and other residences.It was also home to Dickey’s Tavern, a popular tavern where many fisherman and tourists dined.
But the canal never quite became the success it was designed to be. The Potomac River never provided enough water to make the canal usable. The town was eventually renamed South Lowell, named after the Massachusetts town, Lowell. The Great Falls Manufacturing Company wanted to create a company mill town there much like it’s Massachusetts name sake.
However, it turns out, there was quite a feud between Maryland and Virginia in those days. Part of that feud was about water rights. The federal government ruled that South Lowell did not own the Potomac and therefore could not use that water, thus condemning South Lowell to its fate.
Today the town is a ghost town. You can still visit the remaining stones and structures. Dickey’s Tavern was the last remaining building but it burned down in 1950 and all you can see today is some remaining stones of the building.
The land is protected by the National Park Service and you can visit it, if you just follow the Matildaville trail, if you dare.
There’s still some time left on old Light Horse Harry’s lease so it’s a wonder if the town may rise again. Or if it will continue to be a forgotten piece of land just outside of the Nation’s capital.
Will you be visiting Matildaville any time soon?
If you love creepy places, we dare you to take this abandoned places road trip near Washington DC!