Landmark of the Month (July): Spinner's Bike Commute

It's 18 miles from my house to work, which is in the city of Reston. Most of that commute is on the W&OD Trail (more about the Trail later).

I pick up the W&OD trail in the city of Falls Church. The first recorded house in the area was built in 1699, but things really took off in 1734, when a small church was built to serve the local worshippers (George Washington was said to have worshipped, and probably slept, in the church as well). As the church was along the main road to the city of Great Falls, it become known as "Falls Church Road", later shortened to "Falls Church".

Here's a couple of historical tidbits about Falls Church:

The town changed hands several times during the early years of the Civil War.

The world's first wartime aerial reconnaissance was carried out by Thaddeus Lowe and the hot-air balloons of the Union Army Balloon Corps.


Prof Thaddeus Lowe, of the Union Army Balloon Corps

(This is too good to pass up. Lowe was a scientist and inventor who was fascinated with weather and winds. He was attempting to be the first person to make a trans-atlantic balloon crossing when the Civil War broke out. He volunteered his services to the Union Army, and was appointed as the "Chief Aeronaut" of the Balloon Corps. On September 24, 1861, he ascended to a height of 500 feet, where he observed a Union artillery regiment that was firing upon Confederate forces camped at Falls Church. Using a signal flag, he observed their accuracy and soon directed the Union rounds to their deadly mission. You can read more about the Union Army Balloon Corps, here:

Prof Lowe observes a battle in Fair Oaks, VA in his balloon "Intrepid" in this photograph taken on May 31, 1862.

The world's first target of an aerially-directed bombardment, courtesy of Lowe and his balloon.

After it officially become a town in 1875, the first mayor was Dr. John Joseph Moran, known as the attending physician when Edgar Allan Poe died.

Falls Church was the site of the first Roy Rogers fast food location; the restaurant opened in 1968.


Falls Church is the location of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque, one of the largest and most influential mosques in the United States with over 3,000 worshippers attending Friday prayers.

From Falls Church, I ride through the town of Vienna, and on to Reston.

1 comment:

Stephen Poleskie said...

You can learn the complete history of T. S. C. Lowe from my book, THE BALLOONIST, The Story of T. S. C. Lowe, Inventor, Scientist, Magician, and Father of the U. S. Air Force, published by Frederic C. Beil, Savannah, ISBN 978-1-929490-27-1. This book is 368 pages in hardcover, and is avilable at most libraries, book stores and online. You can read an excerpt from it on my web site; StephenPoleskie.com. If you are interested in the Civil War, and ballooning, as well as early inventors I am sure you will find this book to your liking. Thank you, Stephen Poleskie