The Cabin John History 10K Run and 5K Walk held Saturday, May 6, 2023, was good fun, good company, and was blessed with good weather!
Around 25 walkers and three runners gathered across from the neighborhood shops that originally opened in 1928 as a gas and automobile accessory station. Through the years, ownership, name, and commercial purpose have changed from Baker’s Store with grocery items and a gas station; to Dickerson’s Grocery a gas station; to the Good & Quick when the remaining gas pump was removed and a lunch counter installed; to the Captain’s Market we know today.
With nearly 100 years of well-documented history at the starting line alone, it was clear the route would need some focus and editorial direction or risk taking a full day to complete. The May 6 route was conceived by Cabin Johner Elliott Schoen, an avid runner who meets with a few neighbors most Sundays at 7:00 am in front of the Captin’s Market to run anywhere from 5 – 10 miles. The rich history of the neighborhood running routes was the inspiration for the History Run & Walk. (The group welcomes new runners – just show up on a Sunday!)
Elliott’s wife, Meredith McGuire, added additional historical references to the planned route through research of local reference sources and a meeting with CJ’s historian-in-residence and author, Judith Welles, to tap Judith’s deep knowledge. Judith’s book, “Cabin John: Legends and Life of an Uncommon Place,” is the premiere source for Cabin John history.
On Saturday morning, after a few opening remarks, Elliott led the 10K runners up Tomlinson Ave. (named by J.S. Tomlinson, developer of Cabin John Park) toward the Gibson Grove AME Zion Church where a school for Black children met 1911-1931, back down Seven Locks through Carver Road and to 79th street and the canal, up to Glen Echo Park, where segregationist policies led to the arrest of several Howard University students, peacefully attempting to ride the Carousel (the resulting court case came to the attention of U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy and eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court,) then up the hill to the Bannockburn community and back across the Union Arch bridge to Cabin John.
The much larger walking group included people from school age through golden age plus a few pets. Tour guide Meredith McGuire led the walkers to the Clara Barton School (the first integrated public school in Montgomery County); past the site of the Cabin John Bridge Hotel; the civil engineering landmark Union Arch Bridge; the turn-around path of the Georgetown to Cabin John Trolley; and Bannockburn Elementary, which in 1968-1971, conducted its own parent-led voluntary busing program with DC school Meyer Elementary.
This article only touches on the wealth of information shared during the Cabin John History Run & Walk. The full tour route annotations with reference material links is posted on Cabin John’s website, www.cabinjohn.org. A PDF can be downloaded from the website at this link:
Many thanks to Elliott, Meredith, and Judith for making this event so interesting. We hope to sponsor more organized walks in the coming months – keep watch for notice in the Village News and CJCA official listserv.
By Heidi Lewis