Valley and Park Bridges Dumbarton Oaks

Rock Creek Watershed

The valley around Rock Creek forms the boundary of one of the District's great urban parks. Providing shade and a cool microclimate in the summer for visitors and preserving a variety of habitats connected to more rural exurbs, Rock Creek Park serves as a refuge for D.C.'s urban inhabitants of all species.

Prior to its designation as a public park, the Rock Creek Valley was used in a variety of ways by the area's inhabitants. Archaeological evidence shows that the Algonkians hunted this area extensively, and that the creek's mouth at the Potomac was a center for tobacco trade during the colonial and early republic eras. The creek's steepness made it an excellent site for water-powered mills for wheat and corn, several abattoirs and bone mills, and lime kilns. On the hills near the Potomac were also an early botanical garden and a vineyard, both expressions of experiments and hobbies of early government officials.