Tag Archives: Continental Army

A Virginia Landmark in Omaha

August 12, 2016 by
Photography by Contributed

George Washington looms large in history. Even if he hadn’t been elected our first president, he made his mark as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and as the man who presided over the convention that drafted our Constitution. He was also a phenomenally wealthy plantation owner—estimated to have been our wealthiest president.

Washington’s family plantation was called Mount Vernon, named for English naval officer Edward Vernon. Washington’s elder brother served under Vernon in the marvelously titled “War of Jenkins’ Ear,” a British and Spanish conflict named after the ear cut off of a British smuggler.

Washington looms so large in American history that people have named at least 32 pieces of land after him, including at least 30 cities, one District of Columbia, and a state. Patriotically minded Americans have also taken to naming things after Mount Vernon, or recreating it—Wikipedia lists at least six full-sized replicas of his mansion built over the course of American history, as well as a particular interest in the plantation’s famous gardens.

These gardens are even replicated in Omaha, which will surprise nobody who has heard its name: Mount Vernon Gardens, a half-scale replica of Washington’s estate located on a bluff in South Omaha.

The idea for the replica first made an appearance in 1927. A national ladies association, appropriately known as the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, originally sent Omaha’s city engineer to the Virginia plantation to look it over. Inspired by this, he and Park Commissioner Joseph B. Hummel decided they could build a local duplicate.

It was, of course, impossible to exactly mirror Washington’s gardens in Omaha—“we cannot have the beautiful magnolia trees and boxwood for hedges does not do so well here,” Hood told the Omaha World-Herald. But they would reproduce the place’s beauty, if not its exact collection of trees, flowers, and plants. To show off their intentions, in 1929, the city invited students of Technical High School to create a miniature version of the proposed park, which was then displayed at a spring flower show.

In 1930, the city started construction. Trees and shrubs were added to the site at a cost of $3,500, although some of that was immediately damaged by motorists who sped along River Drive in April, stripping trees of their flowers. Nonetheless, by May of that year, the garden was ready for visitors, including a reproduction of the sun dial that reportedly stood at the original plantation during Washington’s time. The park included a Masonic maze exactly the size and shape planted by Washington near a Martha Washington garden. And where Martha once planted vegetables, this Mount Vernon offered more flowers, arranged according to the time of day they best represented.

The local site has long been a favorite for visitors and events, particularly weddings. The popularity of the gardens helped encourage a restoration that added accessible walkways in the 1990s.  Encounter

Visit backtotheriver.org/mt_vernon.htm for more information.


Obviously Omaha

November 5, 2015 by
Photography by Ben Solomon, Rutgers University Athletics

So, you’re traveling to The Garden State for the Huskers’ Nov. 14 game against the Rutgers Scarlett Knights? Here’s the inside dope on how to plan your game day.


It all started right here at Rutgers, the Birthplace of College Football. The first intercollegiate football game was played on Nov. 6, 1869, on the banks of the Raritan River when the visiting Tigers of the College of New Jersey took on—and lost 6-4 to—the Queensmen of Rutgers College.


No Tunnel Walk this weekend, but watch as the team enters the stadium 90 minutes before kickoff in a tradition that has each player touching the “The First Game” statue for good luck as the marching band cranks out the fight song. Before every home game Rutgers fans line the hedges along the brick path just outside the stadium on what is called the Scarlet Walk, which features the iconic statue of a Rutgers player in a classic, Heisman-esque stiff-arm pose to commemorate the Birthplace of College Football.


Plug your ears when the Blackshirts allow the Scarlet Knights into the end zone. After every Rutgers score, a cannon in the corner of the north end zone rocks the stadium with a resounding volley. This tradition stems from the fabled Rutgers-Princeton rivalry where, starting in 1875, pranksters from each school would steal the cannon from the opposing campus.


If you’re looking for a place to grab some grub, cross the river over into New Brunswick. You’ll find a wide array of choices along Easton Avenue and George Street. Right off George at 101 Paterson Street is Destination Dogs, where the toppings lean toward the exotic. My personal favorite is the El Barracho, a Mexican corndog. Other top-notch food options nearby include Old Man Rafferty’s and Stage Left. You really can’t miss on any of these if you’re in “The Bruns.”


A college town wouldn’t be complete without its bar scene. If you are brave enough to go into a Rutgers bar directly off campus sure to be filled with Scarlet Knight fans, take a shot (heck, have a few shots) at any of these taverns: Old Queens Tavern, Scarlet Pub, Knight Club, and Kelly’s Korner. There’s also a World of Beer franchise on nearby George Street.


When Rutgers was founded as Queens College in 1766, it occupied a single city block. Now the New Brunswick campus alone splits into five separate campuses spread across two neighboring towns. To take a look at what began one of the oldest universities in the nation, Big Red fans can stroll over to the historic part of campus, which is located right across the street from the New Brunswick train station on College Avenue between Hamilton and Somerset streets.


On his way up to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to take control of the Continental Army, the nation’s first president-to-be came through New Brunswick on June 24, 1775. Look for the American Revolutionary War monument located at the corner of Albany and Neilson streets. Washington returned on Dec. 9, 1783, and was celebrated with a few drinks at Indian Queen Tavern, which still stands at 1050 River Road in Piscataway.