Washington’s boyhood homes share little common ground

Replica House at the Ferry Farm

Many Americans are aware that George Washington lived at Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, Va., a historic site where they can walk in the footsteps of our nation’s foremost founding father, Revolutionary War hero and first president.

What’s less well-known is that Washington grew up 40 miles south of there, at what is now called Ferry Farm, near Fredericksburg, and the site — the setting for such mythical events as chopping down his father’s cherry tree and throwing a coin across a river — can be visited as well. Both locations provide a fascinating window into Washington’s life. And this year, both have something new to offer visitors.

Mount Vernon

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The Washington Post, June 21, 2018

A moving, respectful tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

“‘If only these walls could talk!’

The thought occurs to me as I’m led down the long, gloomy corridors of the building known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, which housed thousands of patients over its 130-year history as a hospital for people with mental illnesses and disabilities.”

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The Washington Post, May 26, 2018

Loudoun student heads to Antarctica

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Andrea Mares at the Loudoun Academy of Science

As a student at the Loudoun Academy of Science, Andrea Mares has mingled with residents of remote Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay. She has traveled to Austria to work with a company that manufactures solar panels, and she has presented the results of a collaborative research project to judges in Singapore.

This month, the high school senior will add Chile to her list of educational travels, en route to her most far-flung destination yet: Antarctica.

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Washington Post, January 10, 2016

Lifting off in a hot-air balloon

The most suspenseful moments of our hot-air ballooning adventure came a few minutes before our scheduled liftoff.

In the eyes of our pilot, it was a bit too windy to fly. The winds had been diminishing, he said, but if they didn’t come down some more, we might have to scrap the flight. And the window of opportunity was closing rapidly. If our flight didn’t start in the next half-hour, there wouldn’t be enough time to complete it before dark.

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Washington Post, December 20, 2015

Ball’s Bluff marker replaced

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Eight months after the theft of a roadside historical marker commemorating the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in Leesburg, a new marker has been erected in its place.

More than 100 people gathered July 18 for the unveiling and dedication of the replacement marker. Positioned on the Route 15 Bypass, just north of Battlefield Parkway, it gives a brief description of the Oct. 21, 1861, Civil War battle that was waged along the Potomac River, less than a mile away.

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Washington Post, July 24, 2015

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Moonshine in Marion

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In one block on Main Street in Marion, Va., you can enjoy first-rate barbecue at Wolfe’s, watch live bluegrass performances at the historic Lincoln Theatre and rest your head at the equally venerable General Francis Marion Hotel.

But what drew me here was the opportunity to sample some Virginia moonshine at its source.

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Washington Post, March 19, 2015