Maryland Milestones, a program established in 2012 by ATHA Inc., highlight the many firsts and uniques which have occurred in the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area. This program brings information about these milestones to the public and makes connections between the history, culture, and nature of the region. Additionally, the Maryland Milestones program emphasizes the importance that travel, trade, and communication have played in the region – through turnpikes, highways, parkways, aviation, telegraphs, and train travel. In Spring 2012 look for the formal rollout of this program with new signage, milestone markers, and interpretive program trails.
From historic homes such as Riversdale, Montpelier and Bostwick which showcase the life of the middle and upper class plantation culture, to the lives of African Americans in Rossville, the heritage area encompasses varied cultural life. Adelphi Mill in the western part of the heritage area as well as Laurel Mill in the northern part both highlight the use of industry in agriculture. In the 1920s, the US Department of Agriculture set up the Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, the largest research focused center for agriculture in the United States. BARC has led the way in the development of many of our modern foods and systems – including the “Beltsville White” which would become our modern Thanksgiving turkey. The National Agricultural Library, located across the street from the BARC headquarters, is the largest agricultural library in the world and holds letters from Jefferson, watercolors from around the world, and the span of the history of agriculture in print. Just on the edge of BARC is the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge and National Wildlife Visitors Center. These two institutions were originally seeking to explore the intersection between agriculture and wildlife, but Patuxent is now the center for the study of wildlife and wildlife management. The National Wildlife Visitors Center is a great way to get up close and personal with nature. Finally, the region is becoming a hub for green technologies and sustainable living. From solar panels on municipal buildings, to green streets, to sustainable methods of transportation, to farmers markets and living healthy, this region is leading the way to protect and preserve the cultural resources in the heritage area.
The region also contains sites that document the nature of settlement patterns around Washington, D.C., and the rise of the African-American middle class. These include plantation and tobacco culture sites, Native American lifeways, a nationally known Depression-era planned “greentown,” streetcar suburb sites, and several examples of pattern book architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, the area has one-of-a-kind educational and scientific study centers and diverse cultural resources. As a site of war and battles, the heritage area has multiple sites to explore the history of how conflict has impacted the region. Bladensburg and the Port Towns have been a site of a major battle during the War of 1812 and a fort during the Civil War. Beltsville and Laurel both saw action during the Civil War as well. The many historic churches and cemetaries are final resting places and celebrate the need for peace and reconciliation.
For more information please see: http://www.marylandmilestones.org/