Trolley Misses Matildaville

Dickey's Tavern, Matildaville, VA

A previous post about the Great Falls and Old Dominion trolley line found discrepancies on early 20th century maps of it. The earliest maps routed the trolley through the old Prospect Hill village on Old Georgetown Pike, just west of today’s Madeira School. But today’s Old Dominion Drive follows the old trolley road bed, which intersects the Pike much farther west. This was either a map error, or the developers rerouted the trolley line in the early teens.

This early route would have run near the now-abandoned town of Matildaville, VA, the former site of Dickey’s Tavern (photo above, courtesy of DC Public Library). The expert on Matildaville seems to be Debbie Robison, so I looked her up and asked her opinion. She thinks it’s a map error. She noted a misspelling error that appeared on an early map and propagated to subsequent maps. She herself had seen no evidence of abandoned tracks or roadbed in the Matildaville area, though she didn’t search off-trail.

So the likely conclusion remains “map error.”

I’m not surprised. As I noted in the earlier post, McLean and Elkins started the trolley to make money. They didn’t want to invest more than they had to. Harwood’s book on the W&OD railroad tells of many troubles traced to their tight-fisted approach to railroad operation. If they finished one set of tracks to Great Falls, there’s little on earth to induce them to re-lay those tracks a little to the southwest.

I still like this as a subject worth additional research: if I’m ever in McLean again in temperate weather, I want to walk around Matildaville and look for an abandoned road bed. I also need to look at the Difficult Run bridge area near Georgetown Pike for evidence of a now-gone railroad bridge. I don’t expect to find anything, but it adds interest to the trip.


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