Skip to main content
Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

The Potomac: Rolling Through DC’s History and Heart

All-Day Program

Inside Science program

Sunday, March 18, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1B0246
The Potomac River in Great Falls National Park

The Potomac, sometimes called the Nation’s River,  plays an essential role in the identity, history, and life of the Washington metropolitan area. As it flows almost 400 miles from the Appalachian Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, over rocks that range in age from 1 billion to around 2 million years old, picks up water from key tributaries including the Shenandoah, Monocacy, and Anacostia rivers, it eventually drains a 14,670 square mile watershed. The river provides critical habitat for wildlife and many species of fish. It also offers residents and visitors to the nation’s capital a beloved place to play.

In Washington, D.C., the Potomac is coming back to life after years of neglect and pollution. The recently opened District Wharf development sparked a new wave of residential and commercial construction along the Southwest waterfront, and a massive new infrastructure project hopes to increase the river’s cleanliness for the future. Spend a day with a variety of experts examining the Potomac’s rich legacy, geology, and wildlife, following its course through hundreds of years of history from the region’s early inhabitants to the latest in conservation technology.

During lunch and after the seminar, participants can browse information from local groups working to promote conservation, recreation, education, and safety on the river, and learn how they can become involved. All registrants receive a signed copy of Garrett Peck’s book The Potomac River: A History and Guide.

10 a.m.  History

Garrett Peck, local historian and author

11 a.m.  Geology

Callan Bentley, science educator

12 p.m.  Lunch (participants provide their own)

1 p.m.  Biodiversity

Claire Buchanan, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, and Chris Jones, Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center

2 p.m.  The Future

Carlton Ray, Clean Rivers Project, D.C. Water

Inside Science

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)