Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway: Paths and Foot Bridges – Washington DC


At the same time as the New Deal completed the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, it extended the system of trails south from Rock Creek Park (a separate park unit) into the parkway.  All such paths were converted to general purpose walking and biking trails in the 1970s.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built more than two miles of bridle paths in both Rock Creek Park and the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway.  This work was done under supervision of the National Park Service, which had gained oversight of all DC parks in 1933.

The Public Works Administration (PWA) paid for the replacement of eight bridges in 1934-35 that had been washed away in a flood on Rock Creek in the early 1930s (Washington Post 1933).   Three of those are in the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway (Short & Stanley-Brown 1939).

One of those is the Saddle Club footbridge, shown in a 1939 PWA photograph. It is just below the Shoreham Hill road bridge and is still in service (see modern photo).   The Saddle Club Footbridge was built in 1934 for $3,830.  The name stems from its original function as a bridle path bridge and proximity to the former Wardman Saddle Club on the site of the present Shoreham Hotel (Spratt, p. 123)

A 1939 PWA report provides this information along with the photograph shown here: “These two little bridges in Rock Creek Park (sic), constructed by the National Park Service, are typical of the advance in small-bridge design in our national parks. They are constructed of concrete and stone with wood handrails. This project consisted of five bridges. The bridge shown in the larger illustration was completed in October 1934 at a construction cost of $24,897.” (Short & Stanley-Brown 1939)

The Saddle Club bridge, in the larger photo, is misidentified as in Rock Creek Park rather than the Parkway.






Source notes

Civilian Conservation Corps Activities in the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, National Capital Parks-Central, Washington, DC, HABS DC-858.

Short, C. W. and R. Stanley-Brown, 1939.  Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies Between the Years 1933 and 1939 with the Assistance of the Public Works Administration.  Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Timothy Davis, Rock Creek Park Road System, HAER DC-55, 1996.

“District gets $325,000 fund for building,” Washington Post, September 8, 1933, p. 22

Zack Spratt, Rock Creek Bridges,  Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 53-56 (1959).

Amy Ross, Saddle Club Footbridge  (Shoreham Hill Footbridge), HAER No. DC-36, 1992.

Project originally submitted by Richard A Walker on June 21, 2020.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway
Washington, DC 20011

Coordinates: 38.9221, -77.0491

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