Little Falls (Potomac River)

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

Thomas Jefferson visited the Little Falls, which lay in the Potomac River about four miles upstream from Georgetown, twice in a 12-year period. He first visited the Little Falls in September of 1790; another visit is documented in late July of 1802. The falls were an object of natural history of the kind that always attracted him. During his second visit in 1802, he wanted to inspect the canal then under construction that would bypass the Little Falls, whose descent was about thirty-six feet in two miles. This canal was one of the main projects of the Potomac Company's effort to open the river to navigation from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland, a distance of 185 miles.


  • Bacon-Foster, Cora. Early Chapters in the Development of the Potomac Route to the West. (Washington: Columbia Historical Society, 1912), illus. of Little Falls, opp. p. 86 and of Great Falls opp. p. 104.
  • Lear, Tobias. Observations on the River Potomack and the City of Washington. (New York: Samuel Loudon and Son, 1793), 8.