Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bicycling Thru History on the W and OD Rail Trail

On Tuesday, I started out on the 400 mile trip from Monroe, NC, to Wheaton, MD, not on my bicycle, but in my car. I am on my way to visit Mom in Hanover and hopefully gather more family history. But first, I made a stop at Duke University Medical Clinics to see my prostate cancer specialist. Also, I wanted to take a few pictures of Duke University's grand architecture, but it was pouring rain- perhaps on the way home it will be better picture-taking weather.

In any case, I wanted to celebrate the good news that my hormonal therapy continues to hold my blood levels of Prostate Specific Antigen in check, from 3.7 two months ago to 3.4 today. The details are boring but very important to me of course. So, when I arrived in the Washington, DC, area, I hopped on my bicycle at the Washington and Old Dominion Rail Trail and rode about 18 miles total, to and fro. At my starting point in Vienna, Virginia, I took this picture of my bike leaning against a mural painted on a nearby building.

The rail trail runs from the Potomac river, crossing the I-495 beltway, fortunately on a pedestrian bridge, and then continues on through never ending suburbia to Purcellville, VA. However, today, I rode from Vienna to the renovated railroad station at Herndon, VA. The trail is a regional state park, 100 feet wide and 45 miles long. That's a skinny park. The trail touches several other regional parks on the way.

The trail has been paved and now follows the Virginia Power Company's right of way. Thus, any tall trees have been cleared leaving the trail open to constant sun. Thus, you can be exposed to electromagnetic radiation on a pretty wide spectrum- not that it makes much difference heath wise- at least on today's knowledge. I guess the opportunity for good exercise overrides any negative impacts.

The trail follows the old railroad bed that was layed out about 1857. There is a quite a bit of Civil War history along the trail. During the War, the rails were removed by both Federal and Confederate troops to disrupt supply lines. Therefore, the Herndon Rail Station (image above) fell out of the railroad business for awhile. It was then used as a residence and store. After the War, the station was re-established and expanded. Rail transportation came to a dribble in the 1960s and eventually shut down all together. The Herndon Station was again threatened for demolition to be replaced by a parking lot. However, the townspeople came to the rescue and preserved the building making it into the Herndon Historical Society headquarters and store.

I sat on one of several benches in the restored town square; soaking in the sun, taking pictures and enjoying the final petunia blooms of Summer. Across the street, I noticed a new store, named "So Addictive Dessert and Internet Lounge". Just what could a store with a name like that offer a person like me? Only, HEAVEN.

Inside the station, one can find old records, pictures, and a collection of vintage items that continues to grow by donations. Each of the loose-leaf photograph albums layed open on a table inside the station contains numerous 8x10 inch reproductions of historical interest. A computer in the corner of the room will contain an index of surnames and a list of preserved items. The curator told me it was almost ready for use. So, if you have family that lived in Fairfax County, in particular, Herndon, VA, you have a treasure trove of historical information awaiting you.

And, now I can end this entry on a genealogical note. Along the trail, I took a break and sat on a bench which had a dedication plaque- a nice and practical way to memorialize the Razick Family- whoever they were. Makes me want to do an Ancestrydotcom investigation. Wonder what YEAR they came to America.


Friends of the W&OD Trail: History, maps, and lots of trail pictures.

Washingtonpost dot com article by reporter, Francine Uenuma, appearing in Fairfax Extra section of newspaper on 19 June 2008. Interview and video about Paul McCray who managed the WOD Trail for 20 years and knows its history better than anybody. Permalink (I believe this is a never changing link to the Post article)

For visitors or residents, this site provides a great summary of all the trails in Washington, DC, area. Which ones are your favorites?

1 comment:

Bob Kramp said...

Update: About 6 weeks after my bike ride, I went back for an appointment on Oct 29th at my oncologist in Monroe, NC. My PSA level was still hanging in there at 3.5 ng/ml. How sweet it is! My doctor says that some of his patients are overly fixated on PSA levels. Maybe so, but it is my own personal enemy on which I'm keeping track.