For those living in Cabin John, a trip to the nation's capital is less than six miles away. In the metropolitan city center, there are hundreds of historic sites and places to experience history and watch history in the making. Residents and tourists from the world over can visit the White House, the U.S. Congress and Capitol, the headquarters of 14 federal cabinet departments and a host of other federal agencies and bureaus. Almost every nation in the world has an embassy or diplomatic representative here.
The nation's capital is also one of the world's most beautiful cities. Major Pierre Charles L‘Enfant, a member of General George Washington's Continental Army staff, laid out the District of Columbia in 1791, with broad avenues and traffic circles, allowing for monuments, memorials, pools and parks. There's a world-class zoo, shopping for every taste and budget, hotels, theaters and restaurants featuring some of the world's finest cuisine. Cultural activities from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to local jazz clubs and dinner theaters cater to every taste. What's more, recreation at Atlantic Ocean beaches in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey are only a few hours away, as are the snow-covered slopes, campgrounds and lakes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachian chain in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
Glen Echo Park is also a short drive from Cabin John. Locals consider Glen Echo Park a magical place that is situated along the Potomac Palisades near Bethesda, Maryland. The Park was originally a Chautauqua retreat. It was then converted into an amusement park and is now considered a National Park that is host to a variety of arts, environmental and history programs. Visitors can take classes in pottery, painting, photography, and glass art. Children can enjoy puppet shows while the entire family can attend any one of the many live theater performances. There is also a large carousel that remained from the amusement park conversion. Historic tours of the grounds are available daily and for those who want to tap their toes and click their heels, dance classes are available for locals to hone their moves before dancing the night away in the Park's grand ballroom.
Of course, Cabin John residents don't have to leave their community to experience some fun with friends and family. While the city plays host to several special events, none is bigger than the Crab and Chicken Feast which has been in existence for over 37 years. Today, the Crab and Chicken Feast is the largest community event, held traditionally on the afternoon of the first Saturday after Labor Day and drawing hundreds of all ages, with games for children, music, and sometimes special entertainment. Dozens of volunteers contribute their time to organizing and carrying out this event which brings Cabin John together in a festivity enjoyed by all. For those seeking to unite with their fellow citizens on a more regular basis, the Clara Barton Community Center provides a wide variety of programs for all ages. Senior citizen activities, family special events, after school programs, summer camps, holiday parties, volunteer opportunities, yoga, fitness classes, and karate are just a few of the activities at the center.
Cabin John is a unique city with a unique history. In fact, today the city still struggles to identify the true origin of its name. Several stories abound about the origin of the name "Cabin John." According to some, it was named for a hermit named John who had a cabin near the present Union Arch Bridge. Another version says that the hermit was the husband of the "female stranger" whose tombstone is in Alexandria, Virginia. A local historian, Edith M. Armstrong, writes in her Cabin John history, "Another story makes the mysterious John a pirate who eluded his own crew and made his way up the Potomac to bury his treasure." So, who was "Captain John?" Many locals think he could well have been Captain John Smith, founder of Jamestown and the first man to map the Potomac River near Cabin John. However the name Cabin John came to be, it makes for good conversation at any one of the local gathering spots such as a neighborhood coffee house or deli, or a restaurant or tavern where friends and family gather to close out their day.
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