A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

Philadelphia Phillies Baseball - keeping my 100% win record

Watching baseball and eating cheesesteaks with the Phillie Phanatics

sunny 31 °C
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Having spent the morning sightseeing, we boarded the Philadelphia Subway to get back to our car and drive on to the Citizen Park Baseball Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, to watch their game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The fare system on the Philadelphia Subway was the most old fashioned I had seen on my travels; we needed coin tokens (costing $2 each and purchased from kiosks) to get through the platform turnstiles at the start of each journey. At the Delaware River the subway climbed out of its tunnel and crossed the river on tracks running along the side of the Ben Franklin Bridge from where we got a terrific view of the WWII USS New Jersey Battleship moored along the Camden Waterfront on the opposite side of the river.

A train on the Philadelphia Subway

A train on the Philadelphia Subway


The subway comes out into daylight and climbs onto the Ben Franklin Bridge to cross the Delaware River

The subway comes out into daylight and climbs onto the Ben Franklin Bridge to cross the Delaware River


The USS New Jersey Battleship from a subway train crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge

The USS New Jersey Battleship from a subway train crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge

After we parked the streets were remarkably quiet as no traffic is allowed on the roads immediately north of the stadium. As we walked we passed rows of parked vehicles with people sat on folding chairs sharing beers and barbeques at pre-game tailgate parties; although something of an American institution tailgating wasn't something I had encountered previously at the baseball games I had seen in Los Angeles and Denver.

Tailgate parties on the way to the Baseball Stadium

Tailgate parties on the way to the Baseball Stadium


Citizen Bank Park - home of the Philadelphia Phillies - with an advertising plane flying overhead

Citizen Bank Park - home of the Philadelphia Phillies - with an advertising plane flying overhead

As with all major baseball grounds Citizen Park Baseball Stadium had several statutes of Philadelphia Phillies baseball stars from the past. The first we saw was of pitcher Steve Carlton just outside the Left Field Gate entrance. However the one that matters most to the local fans is of Richie Ashburn on Ashburn Alley, a raised walkway behind the center field. Richie Ashburn played for the Phillies 1948-1959 and then was broadcaster for them until his death in 1997.

For me however Ashburn Alley will always be remembered as the place where I finally tried the much hyped local delicacy known as a Philadelphia Cheesesteak, a sandwich made from thinly-sliced pieces of steak and melted cheese in a long roll. I enjoyed my cheesesteak, it reminded me of good kebab from a takeaway back home.

Steve Carlton's statue outside the Left Field Gate Entrance... with Phillie Phanatic making his first appearance on the screen behind him!

Steve Carlton's statue outside the Left Field Gate Entrance... with Phillie Phanatic making his first appearance on the screen behind him!


Richie Ashburn's statue on Ashburn Alley

Richie Ashburn's statue on Ashburn Alley


Looking across the baseball field from Ashburn Alley

Looking across the baseball field from Ashburn Alley


Mike Schmidt's statue outside the Third Base Gate Entrance

Mike Schmidt's statue outside the Third Base Gate Entrance

The Philadelphia Phillies have a large, furry, green mascot called Phillie Phanatic who seems to get everywhere; we'd already seen on the large screen above the entrance on the way in. His job seems to be race around the stadium on an all-terrain vehicle taunting the opposition as much as possible and playing pranks on them! Phillie Phanatic certainly seems to be the most active of the baseball mascots I have seen.

Phillie Phanatic, the club mascot, racing around the field while the players warm up

Phillie Phanatic, the club mascot, racing around the field while the players warm up


Phillie Phanatic has a go at being catcher

Phillie Phanatic has a go at being catcher

The game got underway and the Philadelphia Phillies soon took a 5 run lead in their 1st innings including a 3 run homer which prompted the 'ringing' (i.e. illuminating and swinging) of the 52 feet (16 metre) high replica of the Liberty Bell that stands 102 feet (31 metres) above street level beyond the right outfield.

A batter for the Phillies prepares to hit the ball

A batter for the Phillies prepares to hit the ball

The sea of red shirted Phillies fans celebrate a 'triple' (batter reaching 3rd base)

The sea of red shirted Phillies fans celebrate a 'triple' (batter reaching 3rd base)


The Stadium Liberty Bell that 'rings' after every Phillies home run or win

The Stadium Liberty Bell that 'rings' after every Phillies home run or win

Action shot as the Brewers pitch at the Phillies

Action shot as the Brewers pitch at the Phillies

By the end of the 2nd innings Philadelphia were 7-0 ahead which remained the score until the 8th and 9th innings when Milwaukee managed to score 5 runs. It wasn't enough and Philadelphia eventually won 7-5, maintaining my 100% record of watching my cousins' baseball teams win; perhaps I am a lucky charm?

Cliff Lee pitching for the Phillies

Cliff Lee pitching for the Phillies


More beer arrives for thirsty fans watching the game

More beer arrives for thirsty fans watching the game


Raking the infield after the 6th innings

Raking the infield after the 6th innings


Phillie Phanatic tries to 'hex' the opposing pitcher as John Mayberry prepares to hit the ball for Philadelphia

Phillie Phanatic tries to 'hex' the opposing pitcher as John Mayberry prepares to hit the ball for Philadelphia

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in USA Tagged trains food sport philadelphia videos us_east_coast external_links Comments (0)

Washington Open Top Bus Tour

A tour around a nation's monuments, museums and national cemetery

semi-overcast 28 °C
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I wanted to see the US Capitol and White House while I was on the US East Coast so shortly before the end of my round the world trip I booked myself into a hotel for a few days in Washington and got myself a train ticket there on AMTRAK.

Arriving on my own in a strange city I started my stay with an open top bus tour to get my bearings; an approach I had also used earlier in my trip in Zurich and Sydney. The tour began from Washington's Union Station and soon after drove past the front of the US Capitol a short distance away for which I had a visit booked in a couple of days.

Washington's Union Railway Station

Washington's Union Railway Station


The US Capitol Building at the east end of the National Mall

The US Capitol Building at the east end of the National Mall

Washington is laid out with the Capitol Building atop Capitol Hill as its focal point and the 1.9 mile (3 kilometre) long open space of the National Mall stretching westwards to the needle like Washington Monument a little over half way along its length and then beyond to the Lincoln Memorial close to the Potomac River.

The view from the Capitol down the National Mall towards the Washington Monument

The view from the Capitol down the National Mall towards the Washington Monument

I'd heard of the Smithsonian Institute but never appreciated before that it was a collective term for the national museums of the USA. The 19 museums that make up the nucleus of the Institute line each side of top end of the National Mall, making it the largest museum campus in the world. I later managed to visit two of its most popular museums while I was in Washington - the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History.

The red-turreted Smithsonian Castle on Independence Avenue on the south side of the National Mall - headquarters of the Smithsonian Institute

The red-turreted Smithsonian Castle on Independence Avenue on the south side of the National Mall - headquarters of the Smithsonian Institute


The American Indian Museum on Independence Avenue

The American Indian Museum on Independence Avenue


The US Holocaust Memorial Museum on 14th Street

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum on 14th Street

About half way down the National Mall (where the White House faces onto it from the north) is the Washington Monument, the 555 feet (169 metre) high obelisk completed in 1884 in honour of George Washington the 1st US President. Unfortunately it was closed for repairs and covered in scaffolding while I was there having been damaged by the 2011 Virginia Earthquake and then Hurricane Irene later the same year.

The Washington Monument half way down the National Mall

The Washington Monument half way down the National Mall


View east up the National Mall to the Capitol Building from the Washington Monument

View east up the National Mall to the Capitol Building from the Washington Monument


The White House looking north from the National Mall

The White House looking north from the National Mall

A change of tour bus took us from the Washington Monument out to the Arlington National Cemetery just over the Potomac River where more than 400,000 military personnel from every US war since the American War of Independence right up until current day Afghanistan are buried. The cemetery was originally the home of Confederate Commander-in-Chief Robert E. Lee and was occupied by Union troops early in the Civil War in May 1861. In 1863 a village for freed and runaway slaves was created and then the following year for both practical and symbolic reasons it started being used as a military cemetery.

Memorial Avenue leading up to the Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial Avenue leading up to the Arlington National Cemetery


The entrance into Arlington National Cemetery

The entrance into Arlington National Cemetery


Wax model of a Honor Guard Bugler in the Visitors Center

Wax model of a Honor Guard Bugler in the Visitors Center


Rows of military graves at the Arlington National Cemetery

Rows of military graves at the Arlington National Cemetery

Deep in the heart of the cemetery with a terrific view over Washington are the Tombs of the Unknowns guarded by a honor guard from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment who also provide the ceremonial escort for the US President. None of the guards wear rank insignia so as not to outrank the unknowns and they perform a Changing of the Guard Ceremony by the tombs every half hour. There are four tombs; the original tomb from WWI with tombs from WWII, Korea and Vietnam in the plaza alongside it. The Vietnam Tomb is empty as modern DNA meant it was possible to identify who it was and return his remains to his family.

Looking up at the Tombs of the Unknowns

Looking up at the Tombs of the Unknowns


The Tombs of the Unknowns overlooking Washington

The Tombs of the Unknowns overlooking Washington


Changing the Guard Ceremony at the Tombs of the Unknowns

Changing the Guard Ceremony at the Tombs of the Unknowns

What I didn't appreciate beforehand is that all US military personnel who have seen active service and have been honourably discharged are eligible for burial at the cemetery if they so wish and this means it has on average seven burials per day. It took me a bit by surprise when I saw a Honor Band and Guard march past followed by a horse-drawn flag draped caisson and funeral cortege for one of these burials.

The Honor Guard leading a funeral cortege at Arlington National Cemetery

The Honor Guard leading a funeral cortege at Arlington National Cemetery


The horse-drawn caisson passes carrying an American flag-draped casket

The horse-drawn caisson passes carrying an American flag-draped casket

Arlington House itself was built in 1802 on high ground in the estate by Robert E. Lee's father-in-law George Washington Parke Custis (the step grandson of George Washington). The now restored house has a terrific view of Washington to its front with the wide boulevard of Memorial Drive and Arlington Memorial Bridge leading straight to the Lincoln Memorial.

Arlington House, the former home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee

Arlington House, the former home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee


The view over Washington from Arlington House

The view over Washington from Arlington House

On the hillside directly below the house is the grave and eternal flame of President John F. Kennedy who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22nd 1963. His wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was buried alongside him 1994 and his younger brother Senator Robert F. Kennedy (assassinated in LA, California June 5th 1968) is buried in an adjacent grave plot.

The eternal flame by President John F. Kennedy's grave

The eternal flame by President John F. Kennedy's grave


Close up of President John F. Kennedy's gravestone

Close up of President John F. Kennedy's gravestone

The cemetery has lots of other memorials of interest including a pair of memorials behind the Tombs of the Unknowns Amphitheatre to the crews of the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttles lost in 1986 and 2003.

Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle Memorials either side of the 1979 Iran Mission Monument

Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle Memorials either side of the 1979 Iran Mission Monument

As we returned to the Washington we drove past the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Ministry of Defence and the largest office building in the world. Unfortunately (but perhaps not surprisingly) we were not allowed to take any close up photographs!

The Pentagon

The Pentagon


Another view of the Pentagon

Another view of the Pentagon

Returning to the Washington Memorial I took the opportunity before getting back onto the main tour bus to have a look around the nearby Federal Bureau of Printing and Engraving. I had so far been unsuccessful in my attempts to see coins being minted at the US Mints in Denver and Philadelphia so when there was an opportunity to see US bank notes being printed instead I was keen to take it! Not surprisingly for security reasons we were not allowed to take photographs of the printing presses running although in the gift shop on the way out there was a case containing a million dollars and you could also measure your height in $100 bills (I'm $1,607,700 tall!).

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing on 14th Street

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing on 14th Street


Tour Entrance for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Tour Entrance for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing


$1,000,000 in $10 notes on display in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

$1,000,000 in $10 notes on display in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing


How tall are you in $100 notes?

How tall are you in $100 notes?

I then got back on the main tour bus and we made our way around the numerous national memorials that pepper the lower section of the National Mall. Immediately behind the Washington Monument is the National World War II Memorial at the top end of the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The National World War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial behind it at the other end of the Reflecting Pool

The National World War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial behind it at the other end of the Reflecting Pool

The neo-classical Lincoln Memorial dedicated in 1922 to honour the 16th US President anchors the west end of the National Mall. Inside the memorial is the famous 19 feet (5.8 metre) high statue of Abraham Lincoln with words of his 1863 Gettysburg Address and 1865 Second Inaugural Address engraved on two of its walls.

The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches with hundreds of thousands of people gathered around its Reflecting Pool, including African-American Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 and anti-Vietnam War Protests in the late 1960s. It has also been used a backdrop in numerous films including Logan's Run (1976), Forest Gump (1994) and Planet of the Apes (2001) amongst many others.

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial


Lincoln's Statue inside his Memorial on the National Mall

Lincoln's Statue inside his Memorial on the National Mall


Looking back up the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial

Looking back up the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial

Just to the south of the Lincoln Memorial beside the Tidal Basin are the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (32nd US President between 1933-1945) and picturesquely on the other side of the Basin the Thomas Jefferson Memorial (3rd US President between 1803-1809).

The Martin Luther King Memorial

The Martin Luther King Memorial


The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial


The Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the other side of the Tidal Basin

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the other side of the Tidal Basin

Amongst the other memorials nearby was the Korean War Veterans Memorial depicting a patrol of soldiers from the conflict and the Albert Einstein Memorial with him holding a manuscript engraved with the formulas of his three most important scientific advances (the theory of general relativity, the photoelectric effect and the equivalence of energy and matter).

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial


The Albert Einstein Memorial

The Albert Einstein Memorial

In addition to a grid of north/south (numeric) and east/west (alphabetic) streets Washington also has diagonal avenues named after states and the final leg of our bus tour took us along Pennsylvania Avenue which is probably the most famous and busiest of them. This is where a lot of the federal government buildings such as the Internal Revenue, Department of Justice and FBI Headquarters are and is usually referred to as the Federal Triangle.

Pennsylvania Avenue

Pennsylvania Avenue


View from the bus on Pennsylvania Avenue - all roads lead to the Capitol

View from the bus on Pennsylvania Avenue - all roads lead to the Capitol


The J Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue - headquarters of the FBI

The J Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue - headquarters of the FBI

One of the final buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue before the Capitol is the Newseum which apparently contains loads of footage of major events over recent years and looks like something the media mogul baddie in the James Bond Film "Tomorrow Never Dies" would have dreamt up. It looked a fascinating place to visit with terrific reviews but unfortunately I didn't have time to fit it in.

The Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue

The Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged trains museums tour washington videos solo war_memorials mints us_presidents us_east_coast film_locations Comments (0)

Mount Vernon

A trip down the Potomac to visit George Washington's country estate and tomb

sunny 26 °C
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When I said I wanted to visit Washington DC for a few days lots of people recommended that if I should try and do an excursion out to George Washington's country estate and tomb at Mount Vernon while I was there. It sounded a great idea so I began my second day in Washington with a 90 minute boat trip down the Potomac River to Mount Vernon in northern Virginia.

Our last view of the Capitol Building as we set sail down the Potomac for Mount Vernon

Our last view of the Capitol Building as we set sail down the Potomac for Mount Vernon

On the east bank we soon sailed past the hangars of the Anacostia Naval Air Station - home of "Marine One", the call-sign of the Marine Corps helicopters that ferry the US President to and from the South Lawn of the White House. Meanwhile overhead domestic passenger jets were flying over us to land at Ronald Reagan National Airport on the opposite shore of the river (international flights use Dulles Airport 20 miles further out of town).

The hangars at Anacostia Naval Air Station - home of 'Marine One'

The hangars at Anacostia Naval Air Station - home of 'Marine One'


A passenger jet coming into land over the Potomac River at Ronald Reagan National Airport

A passenger jet coming into land over the Potomac River at Ronald Reagan National Airport

It was a relaxing cruise down the Potomac during which we past the Cherry Blossom, a recreation of a 19th century Victorian Paddle Steamer moored up on the Alexandria Old Town waterfront. We also sailed under the "bascule" (i.e. opening or drawbridge) span of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge carrying the south eastern section of the Capitol Beltway, the interstate freeway that rings Washington.

The Cherry Blossom Paddle Steamer moored up at Alexandria

The Cherry Blossom Paddle Steamer moored up at Alexandria


The bascule span of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge carrying the Capitol Beltway Interstate across the Potomac River

The bascule span of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge carrying the Capitol Beltway Interstate across the Potomac River

The final landmark we passed was Fort Washington on a promontory on the east bank; originally built in 1809 it was the only defensive fort protecting the city although it was abandoned to the British during the War of 1812 without a shot being fired. Mount Vernon itself then came into view picturesquely sat on a small hill on the west bank and our boat headed for the shore and tied up at its wharf.

Fort Washington on the north bank of the Potomac River

Fort Washington on the north bank of the Potomac River


George Washington's House at Mount Vernon as seen from the Potomac River

George Washington's House at Mount Vernon as seen from the Potomac River

On the 20 minute walk up to the Mansion through the woods we stopped at Washington's Tomb. George Washington was the first US President 1789-1793 and when he died in 1799 the original plan had been for him to eventually lay to rest in the crypt under the dome of the Capitol Building. However his preference had always been to be buried in a new family vault at Mount Vernon replacing the existing deteriorating structure and this is what eventually happened in 1837 when his remains were placed in his current marble sarcophagus beside 23 other members of his family.

George Washington's Tomb at Mount Vernon

George Washington's Tomb at Mount Vernon


Crowds gathered around George Washington's Tomb

Crowds gathered around George Washington's Tomb

The Washington's were slave owners and close to his tomb there is the slave burial ground where 50-70 slaves are buried in unmarked graves and now have their own large memorial.

The Slave Burial Ground and Memorial close to Washington's Tomb

The Slave Burial Ground and Memorial close to Washington's Tomb

George and Martha Washington moved to Mount Vernon when they got married in 1757. George's father built the original simple farmhouse in 1735 but George then extended it over the five decades he lived at Mount Vernon into the three story 21 room mansion we see today.

View of the front of the Mansion from across the Bowling Green

View of the front of the Mansion from across the Bowling Green


The queue through the Servant's Hall into the Mansion

The queue through the Servant's Hall into the Mansion

Entry was by timed ticket through the one and half story Servants' Hall that flanks the front left of the Mansion and is mirrored on the right by a similarly shaped building housing the Kitchen. Photography wasn't allowed inside the house which felt grand but simple with bits added over time giving it character. George Washington died of a severe throat infection in the rather simple looking main bedchamber in December 1799.

The archaeological dig underway by the exit from the Mansion into the Kitchen

The archaeological dig underway by the exit from the Mansion into the Kitchen


The Kitchen at Mount Vernon

The Kitchen at Mount Vernon


The view of the back of the Mansion from the riverside lawn

The view of the back of the Mansion from the riverside lawn

George Washington laid out his estate so the outbuildings were spread along the lanes leading to the left (north) and right (south) from the Mansion. To the south was the coach house, stables, laundry, smokehouse and various store rooms.

The Washington's coach in the Coach House

The Washington's coach in the Coach House


The stables at Mount Vernon

The stables at Mount Vernon

The operation of the farm for the Washington's was run by their overseer whose accommodation and office is on the North Lane which also included a spinning room, blacksmith shop and yet more storerooms.

Inside the overseer's accommodation along the North Lane

Inside the overseer's accommodation along the North Lane


The Spinning Room along the North Lane

The Spinning Room along the North Lane


Making nails inside the Blacksmith's Shop

Making nails inside the Blacksmith's Shop


The Salt House along the North Lane

The Salt House along the North Lane

The head gardener also had his own house and we were also to see inside a 'necessary', which was the polite term for the outside privy. It had 3 seats so going to the toilet could obviously be a communal activity!

The head gardener's office at Mount Vernon

The head gardener's office at Mount Vernon


The 'necessary' (toilet) at Mount Vernon

The 'necessary' (toilet) at Mount Vernon


Inside the 'necessary' there were 3 seats - going to the toilet could be a communal activity

Inside the 'necessary' there were 3 seats - going to the toilet could be a communal activity

Mount Vernon has a couple of walled gardens. The Lower Garden containing vegetables for the Kitchen is on the south side of the Mansion while the showcase Upper Garden with its Greenhouse was used for fruit and nuts. Next to the Greenhouse were the Women's Slave Quarters; the Washington's had 317 slaves and about a quarter of them lived here while the rest lived down on the farm. George Washington had growing misgivings about slavery during his life and emancipated all of them in his will.

The Greenhouse and Upper Garden at Mount Vernon

The Greenhouse and Upper Garden at Mount Vernon


Inside the Women's Slave Quarters at Mount Vernon

Inside the Women's Slave Quarters at Mount Vernon

Rather than arriving at the Wharf, the more usual way to arrive at Mount Vernon is through the rather impressive Museum and Education Center. The Museum itself contained various artifacts from his life however a lot more interesting to me was the Education Center which contained various displays explaining his life including several wax models recreating what he would have looked like at key events during his life.

Model of George Washington (45 years old) leading his army at Valley Forge (1777-1778)

Model of George Washington (45 years old) leading his army at Valley Forge (1777-1778)


Model of George Washington (57 years old)  being sworn is as the first US President (1789)

Model of George Washington (57 years old) being sworn is as the first US President (1789)

Despite being a General and the first President of the USA George Washington primarily considered himself a farmer and this reflected in the 4 acre Pioneer Farm (he actually cultivated more than 3,000 acres) located by the Wharf on the Potomac River. I was interested in the explanation for the different types of fencing used around the farm; tightly woven wattle fencing to protect poultry and small animals, post and rail fences to permanently mark boundaries and most interestingly zig-zagging split rail fencing around fields of crops (their main advantageous was they could be easily laid around trees and other obstacles).

The Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon with split rail fencing in the foreground

The Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon with split rail fencing in the foreground

Pride of place at the Pioneer Farm is a reconstruction of the 16 Sided Barn that Washington designed for treading wheat; the way it worked was that the wheat was laid out around the first floor and horses walked over it loosening the grain out of the straw so it fell through the floor to be picked up below making threshing the wheat a lot easier. Also on the Pioneer Farm is a reconstruction of a Slave Cabin which is more typical of how the majority of slaves lived.

Washington's innovative 16 Sided Barn on the Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon

Washington's innovative 16 Sided Barn on the Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon


Slave cabin on the Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon

Slave cabin on the Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon


Cattle on the farm at Mount Vernon

Cattle on the farm at Mount Vernon

The hooter of our boat moored on the Wharf then sounded recalling us to take us back to Washington. The current wharf was built in 1880 and restored in 1991 but the Washington's also had a Wharf and a thriving fishing business - in 1772 his fisheries reaped 1.3 million herring and more than 11,000 shad used to help feed the plantation as well as being an important source of income.

Our boat waiting at the Wharf to take us back to Washington

Our boat waiting at the Wharf to take us back to Washington

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