Culture and history across America’s Capital Region

Culture and history across America’s Capital Region

Tuesday, 14 May, 2024 0


America’s Capital Region is steeped in history, offering a unique insight into the country’s heritage across a multitude of key sites.

Beyond the well-known White House, the region offers a snapshot of US culture and history, from historic Georgetown to the rye whiskey renaissance in Maryland and Virginia’s Crooked Road, the birthplace of country music.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the whole region is gearing up for the 250th anniversary of America’s independence in 2026.



The Catoctin Furnace
The Catoctin Furnace, located in the mountain town of Frederick, operated from 1776 to 1903 and was used by iron companies to cast both raw pig iron and iron implements from the surrounding mountains. Previously operated by enslaved people, this site is now open to the public and represents the history of the Industrial Revolution. In the middle of the 19th century, the number of early enslaved workers had declined, and their roles were replaced by European immigrants until the furnace’s closure in 1903.

In the 1970s, highway construction brought public attention back to The Catoctin Furnace, specifically to its 200-year-old burial ground. Today, The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society preserves this important site and works with the African American Resources Cultural and Heritage Society of Frederick County to document the legacy of the enslaved workers. Through DNA analysis of those buried in the cemetery, researchers have now identified 42,000 genetic relatives of Catoctin individuals.


The history and modern revival of rye whiskey
While 2023 saw rye whiskey become the official spirit of the state of Maryland, this distinct spirit dates back hundreds of years. In the 19th and early 20th century, Maryland rye whiskey became incredibly popular both domestically and internationally, creating a thriving industry. However, the 1920s saw the beginning of Prohibition, stopping all production and sale of alcoholic drinks which devastated the industry.

Visitors to Maryland can now taste the official state spirit and learn how history influences the modern distilling process at multiple craft distilleries across the state. McClintock Distillery offers tours and tastings in downtown Frederick, Baltimore Spirit Co. is bringing back Epoch Rye and Route 40 Brewing and Distilling situated in the mountain town of Frostburg, provides onsite tasting rooms.


Maryland’s Year of Civil Rights

2024 has been proclaimed Maryland’s year of Civil Rights with state-wide programs on offer. Maryland was home to civil rights leaders such as Verda Freeman Welcome, Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, and Gloria Richardson. It has been the backdrop to pivotal civil rights legislation, from the Treaty of Cambridge to Bell vs. Maryland.

Throughout 2024, museums and organisations across the state will present programming that celebrates Maryland’s role in civil rights with national and state heritage organisations like the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, Maryland Heritage Areas, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.



The Historic Triangle

Virginia’s Historic Triangle is the perfect mix of heritage and hands on learning. Made up of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, the Historic Triangle offers chances for the whole family to immerse themselves in America’s history where it all happened.

Start the trip in Historic Jamestown, which was the first permanent English Settlement in the New World where visitors can get hands on access to a working archaeological dig. On select Wednesdays, visitors can go ‘Inside the Vault’, meet the curator team and visit artifacts that are not yet on display.  The Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum offering immersive galleries, and outdoor re-creations including the three English ships that were first to arrive.

Continue to Colonial Williamsburg, which is the world’s largest living history museum. With the entire museum staying in character 24 hours a day, visitors can experience what life was like for families in the 18th century through activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides, ghost tours and culinary experiences.

In Yorktown, home to the last major battle site of the American Revolutionary War, visitors to the Yorktown Battlefield can see artifacts from the battle, watch a film on the siege at Yorktown and take a tour of the siege lines.  The American Revolution Museum shares the story of the nation’s founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond through exhibits and immersive environments and films.


The birthplace of country music celebrates 20 years

The Crooked Road was named Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail in 2004 with the 333-mile trail connecting ten major venues and over 50 affiliate venues. Bristol, the official Birthplace of Country Music as designated by the American Congress, is just one stop on Virginia’s Crooked Road, which weaves together culture, heritage, and music. Cherished by music fans, this trail is celebrating 20 years with many musical milestones happening along the way including the 50th anniversary of the Carter Family Fold (where the Carter Family became pioneers of American country music in the 1920s and Johnny Cash held his last performance). The Birthplace of Country Music Museum celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Music lovers can look forward to a multitude of celebrations throughout 2024. Enjoy Crooked Road Jams throughout the months of May, June, July, August, and September in Abingdon, and weekly Saturday night concerts at the Carter Family Fold. Celebrate Appalachian roots music at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots reunion at the Birthplace of Country Music.


Virginia’s black heritage and culture

Virginia is a state partly defined by Black heritage and culture with many opportunities to learn more about the contributions of Black Americans, including the Civil Rights Movement. With many notable sites, visitors are invited to embark on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

Take a self-guided driving tour through Southside Virginia following the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. A downloadable state itinerary ensures a fully immersive experience which also offers educational information on the sites and guides tours through important landmarks such as Farmville, Virginia. This is  where a group of students organised an all-Black Robert Russa Moton High School in protest at the school’s poor conditions. This makes Farmville a key destination to learn about school integration.


Washington, DC 

The C&O Canal and historic Georgetown

Georgetown is recognisable by its cobbled streets, waterfront spots offering canal history, and charming boutiques. With a small-town atmosphere, Georgetown comes with a unique heritage running along the first mile of the C&O Canal. Originally a tobacco port town, two centuries later Georgetown was designated a National Historic landmark and is now a bustling neighborhood with much to offer. Dine in a renovated Federal house at 1789 restaurant and bar, visit Tudor Place Historic House & Garden which houses over 18,000 decorative objects including the largest Washington Collection outside of Mount Vernon, and stay at Rosewood offering historic townhouses overlooking the Canal.


60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
Washington, DC offers a multitude of iconic sites linked to the 60th anniversary, many of which are free. History lovers can head downtown to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and honor his legacy. Nearby on the National Mall, visitors will find the Lincoln Memorial, honoring Abraham Lincoln, the famed spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The area also offers museums perfect for learning more about American history and culture. The National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History sit on the National Mall and offer a deep dive.


Go-Go Museum

Opening in late 2024, the new Go-Go Museum in DC will provide an in depth look at the genre created in the 1970s. A brand of funk, R&B, hip-hop and Afro-Latin rhythms Go-Go music was named the Official Music of Washington, DC in 2020. Located in Anacostia the museum will include digital and interactive exhibitions which will guide visitors through the roots of Go-Go music. Also onsite, enjoy the Go-Go Museum cafe which will host live performances. 

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TravelMole Editorial Team

Editor for TravelMole North America and Asia pacific regions. Ray is a highly experienced (15+ years) skilled journalist and editor predominantly in travel, hospitality and lifestyle working with a huge number of major market-leading brands. He has also cover in-depth news, interviews and features in general business, finance, tech and geopolitical issues for a select few major news outlets and publishers.

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