Walking in the Footsteps of History
By Wendy Swanson
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
The last two National Park Service Ranger-led Lincoln-themed walking tours of the season will happen this coming weekend. The Ranger tours are popular not only with visitors to our city but also with locals in need of a history fix. The first tour focuses on Lincoln himself while the second tells the story of the Lincoln conspirators. Both tours visit Ford's Theatre, pictured to the left.
Saturday, November 6’s offering will be Ranger Steve Miller’s tour “Mr. Lincoln Goes to Washington.” He promises to give participants a taste of what Washington was like upon Lincoln’s arrive in 1861. The starting point for the walk is the base of the Washington Monument at 10 a.m. The two-hour tour will be about 1 1/4 miles and includes sites associated with Lincoln's presidency and his assassination in April 1865. The tour makes a brief rest stop at the National Portrait Gallery (the Patent Office in Lincoln's time and the site of a Lincoln second inaugural ball) and concludes at Ford's Theatre, where Steve is a Park Service Ranger. There anyone on the tour is welcome to visit the theater and museum.
The Sunday tour (November 7) will focus on the sad ending of the Lincoln Washington story, the assassination. Entitled "Mary Surratt: Accomplice or Scapegoat? - Ranger Guided Lincoln Conspirators Tour," the event too will have a 10 a.m. starting time. Attendees for this tour will meet at the Lone Sailor statue at the Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Latecomers can join the group at the second stop, the Temperance Fountain, located at 7th and Indiana, NW, just across from the Navy Memorial Archives metro station.
From there the group will head to Mary Surratt’s Boarding House (now home to the Wok & Roll restaurant). Other stops will include the Patent Office, St. Patrick’s Church, the Odd Fellows Hall and the Herndon House. Throughout the tour, walkers will hear the evidence against Mary Surratt and some of the other conspirators including Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, Dr. Samuel Mudd, and Louis Weichmann. The tour leader is an expert on the subject as Layton Carr is also a Park Ranger at Ford’s Theatre. Carr promises that the review of the conspirators’ roles in the assassination will be a fair one. At the tour’s end, the group will take on the role of jury to determine the fate of Mary Surratt and the conspirators. Will it be a hanging jury? This walk, about one mile in length, will last about two hours.
Both tours are free and require no registration. Covid protocols: Masks will be required at any indoor locations (the Portrait Gallery and Ford's Theatre) and any other place where social distancing cannot be maintained.
These Ranger tours are the last of this season but will return in the spring. Tours go rain or shine, except in the case of very heavy rains. (Any doubt: call 202/716-5692) Keep these and future Ranger events in mind for friends/family you know who will be visiting Washington as well as for local history buffs. The tours are an excellent way to relive some history while getting a bit of exercise at the same time.