In the mid-1950s, development threatened to destroy the beautiful landscape along the Maryland shore of the Potomac River. Instead of enjoying the same view that George Washington did more than two hundred years ago, visitors to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate would have seen an oil tank farm, a sewage treatment plant, or housing developments.
Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton of Ohio, a member of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, sprang into action. She purchased a 500-acre farm directly across the Potomac from Mount Vernon and next to the Moyaone Reserve, an environmentally conscious planned community. Bolton donated her farm for the creation of the Accokeek Foundation and, with a coalition of organizations that included the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Moyaone Association, and Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, launched an ambitious program to protect six-miles of shoreline. This large-scale landscape conservation effort led to the creation of Piscataway Park, the first national park established to “preserve historic vistas.”
Today, the Accokeek Foundation partners with the National Park Service to steward 200 acres of Piscataway Park which covers, in total, approximately 5,000 acres, from Piscataway Creek to Marshall Hall on the Potomac River. An effort that began out of a desire to “preserve the view,” in the end has preserved much more. The full conservation area protects a wealth of environmental, cultural, and historic resources, from wetlands to farms to nationally significant historic sites.
The park is open daily to visitors who enjoy a quiet landscape for recreation and reflection. Annually, thousands of school children visit for farm-based education, learning about environmental stewardship through a historical lens. With support from donors and members, the Accokeek Foundation provides a natural space for all to enjoy, for generations to come.