A trolley to Great Falls

GREAT FALLS, Va. — While it had occurred to me that the design of Old Dominion Drive was atypical for Northern Virginia roads, I had not thought about it enough to hypothesize that it was actually railroad-grade. A visit to Great Falls Park this past weekend enlightened me to that and it all made sense.


The Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad Company was a subdivision of Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. The NPS explanation says that “light rail” was opened on July 4, 1906 to Great Falls Amusement Park. Within a year, 1.6 million trips went up the line.

Trolley mock-up

Virginia Secondary Route 738Virginia Route 309In 1934, the Great Falls line was discontinued and replaced by Old Dominion Drive which is mostly a two-lane road between Great Falls and its terminus in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington. In McLean and near the Glebe Road intersection and Marymount University, Old Dominion Drive is four lanes, but I do not anticipate any additional widening. West of VA 123, the road is secondary route 738, east of it it is primary route 309.

Highway markers by Shields Up!

Author: WFY

Yet another Washingtonian pushing the ubiquitous Nats/DC sports, Penn State, commuting, bicycling, kayaking, broomball, skiing, gin & tonic agenda.

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