THROWBACK THURSDAY--NOVA PARKS-- THE POWER-PLANT THAT NEVER WAS

Algonkian Park

The story of Algonkian Regional Park may be one of fate or simply just one of luck. However one may think of it is up to them because in the end the park itself is simply a great gift to the Northern Virginia region. The park spans 838 acres next to the Potomac River, a swath of land that was once set aside for a coal burning power plant. 

In the 1950s the County Board of Supervisors voted to have a plant built. PEPCO (the power company contractor) had promised that the plant would not only supply power but also raise the monetary worth of land in the surrounding area. The W&OD railroad, (what would eventually become the now well-known NOVA Parks trail), was then purchased by the C&O railroad for the purposes of controlling the shipping of coal to the plant. 

North of the Potomac, however, the state of Maryland had a different idea on where the proposed power plant should be built. 

In the end Maryland got the smoke stacks and Virginia got the park.

After the viability of the power plant was over, PEPCO built a golf course and conference center for corporate use. By the early 1970’s the power company wanted to get rid of this land. In exchange for Loudoun County becoming a member of NOVA Parks (then known as Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) nearly 1,000 acres on the Potomac was purchased and made into a regional park, seen below. 

Today visitors can chose a multitude of outdoor recreational activities for their enjoyment like renting a picnic shelter or a vacation cottage along the Potomac River, spending hours hiking paved and natural surface hiking trails, playing golf or playing in the summer sun with their kids at the popular Volcano Island Waterpark.

Loudoun County joining NOVA Parks has resulted in over 3,500 acres of regional parkland being added to the system, benefiting generations to come. 

On a clear day visitors to Algonkian can look across the river and see the smoke stacks of Maryland’s power plant, pictured below. A reminder of what could have been.

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