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From approximately 1888 to 1900, Collingwood Beach was an African American resort, a getaway for church groups and fraternal organizations from the District of Columbia. A white steamboat Captain L.J. Woolen purchased the property in 1888 and built a bathhouse, pavilion, merry-go-round, swings and a “gravity railroad” (an early roller coaster). He began running excursions for African Americans seeking a getaway. The First Separate Battalion of the District of Columbia National Guard, an all Black unit, used the property in August 1891 as a training camp. Frederick Douglass and his daughter came and reviewed the troops. The property was later leased by African-American Steamboat operator J.W. Patterson who changed the name to Douglass Beach. Patterson later ran into difficulties when the White captain of the Jane Mosely, a steamboat he had leased, refused to embark for Collingwood Beach. The matter was later settled out of court. By 1908 the beach was reported as abandoned.
The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South by Andrew W. Kahrl. University of North Carolina Press. 2012
Historically African American Leisure Destinations Around Washington, D.C. by Patsy Mose Fletcher, The History Press. 2015.
Site Location Item Type Metadata
Approximately in the vicinity of Collingwood Picnic Area along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Alexandria VA. Owned by the National Park Service
“Collingwood Beach,” Fairfax County African American History Inventory, accessed March 1, 2024, https://fairfaxaahi.centerformasonslegacies.com/items/show/209.