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Home > About the Chesapeake > Bay Regions > The Potomac River
The Potomac River
Photo from The Potomac River

From its source high in the Allegheny Mountains, the Potomac runs through many diverse landscapes before reaching the Bay at Point Lookout. This is a waterway steeped in history, from the settlement of historic St. Mary’s City in 1634 to the building of Washington, D.C. in 1800 to great Civil War battles fought near its shores, at Manassas and Antietam.

Today, the Potomac is a key entry point to the Chesapeake Bay for millions living in or visiting metropolitan Washington. Recreational opportunities abound on the river. So do historical and natural attractions that reveal just how strong the connections are between the stories of the Bay and the broader history of the country.

Between Point Lookout, on the shores of the Bay, and inland Washington, D.C., a number of Gateways enable you to explore the heritage of the Potomac region. These sites include picturesque lighthouses, colonial farms and settlements, historic military installations, wildlife refuges, water trails, and more.

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Featured Gateway
Great Falls Park - McLean, VA
Located just 15 miles from the Nation's capital, the Great Falls of the Potomac (so named by the first European colonists) is considered the most spectacular natural landmark in the DC metropolitan area. Here, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through...More info

Regional Events
11/26 Hearth & Home in Early Maryland - Hearth & Home in Early Maryland
12/04 Winter's Eve - Light snacks and singing carols by the fire.

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