March 26, 2006
We tried to take the tour on Friday morning, but three tour buses were coming in and there were no seats available on any of the 10:30am trolleys. We came back Saturday morning and there were only 11 people on our tour. We were a mixed group, though, with riders from Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Minnesota, and, of course, Connecticut. The main reason I take a tour is to orient myself, but it is also a great way to pick up some interesting trivia about a city, and this tour was no exception. I had noticed that a lot of streets were named with people's first names: Princess Ann, Prince Edward, Amelia, Caroline, Sophia, George, Hannover, Frederick... do you see a pattern? Yes, this is the family of King George II. Actually, the city of Fredericksburg itself was named after the Prince of Wales, Frederick, who never lived to be the King of England. Since he was not well liked, this is probably a good thing.
We began our tour by driving down Canal Street, along the Rappohanock River. With all the rain, it was high and it was muddy, but not nearly as high as it has been in the past. We stop along the river. We learned that in its heyday as a port, 20 to 25 ships a day docked here. We look across to where Chatham is located; this is where the Union army crossed the river in December 1862. You begin to get an idea what a massive undertaking this would have been.Richard keeps up an almost nonstop chatter filled with anecdotes as well as historic facts. He talks about Fredericksburg three fires, the over 90 antique dealers in present Fredericksburg, and the fact that the dining room at Kenmore is one of the 100 most beautiful rooms in the U.S. We hear that Martha Washington’s father is buried in the cemetery on Princess Anne Street. We drove by the Mary Washington House and St George Church, with its three Tiffany Windows. We learned that Fredericksburg changed hands ten times during the Civil War. We heard about Clara Barton and how she had nursed soldiers here in the Presbyterian Church, and when we drove by, there was a wedding going on there with a family we had gotten to know at the Richard Johnston Inn. We finish up going by Mary Washington University and the Sunken Road. It was a very enjoyable tour.
From journal Fredericksburg—Where History Never Gets Old