Residents celebrate Travilah Oak's birthday
Potomac and North Potomac residents are gearing up to once again celebrate the Travilah Oak, a white oak tree located in the Potomac Oak Center and estimated by the Maryland Forest Service to be nearly 275 years old. Each year, the community gathers to celebrate the tree's birthday, and this year won't be different. The eighth annual Travilah Oak Day will take place from noon to 4 p.m., Oct. 10, beneath the tree, located in the shopping center at the corner of Glen and Travilah Roads in Potomac. The event will feature hay rides, vaulting demonstrations on horseback, traditional music, scarecrow building, a pumpkin decorating contest, a magician, vintage cars, Indian dance, karate demonstrations, hands-on nature activities, and more. A raffle sponsored by Potomac Oak Center merchants will benefit the Potomac Theatre Company, a local community theater company; and the celebration will culminate with a birthday cake and a tree hug.
In its long lifetime, the tree has stood by through multiple periods of local history — including the boom and decay of the small town of Travilah, named for its postmaster, Travilah Claggett. The town flourished in the 19th century and into the early 20th century while the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was still in use as a major means of transporting goods. It once stood next to the Old Travilah Country Store — built in the 1840s, the store remained in operation until the late 1960s, and was once a popular place for children to buy penny candy. Today, the oak stands in a shopping center built in 1979.
"Remarkably, through all this time it has managed to escape the ax. I have seen so many other beautiful old trees cut down in the path of suburban development," said Tito Cantero, a neighbor, in a statement.
A group of citizens dubbed the Friends of Travilah Oak joined together in 1997 with a goal of protecting the tree and preserving it for prosperity. The group, coordinating with Hopkins and Porter Construction, Inc., created a patio and seating area around the venerable oak for all to enjoy. Today, the Travilah Oak Day celebration aims to raise awareness about the community's heritage.
Dining to stop diabetes
The Kaplowitz family of Potomac is once again hosting a charity dinner at California Tortilla in the Cabin John Shopping Center to find a cure for diabetes. From 5-10 p.m., Thursday, eating a meal at the restaurant at 7727 Tuckerman Lane in Potomac will benefit diabetes research. Diners can eat in or take the food to go; either way a portion of the bill will be donated to the American Diabetes Association. To learn more about the charity dinner, contact the restaurant at 301-765-3600.
Safe river access for all
The Potomac Conservancy recently teamed up with the National Park Service and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park to make river access safer near Lockhouse 8.
Staff and volunteers for the Potomac Conservancy, an environmental group focused on the Potomac River, have been hard at work installing a new launch area near the Cabin John Lockhouse. The launch area will make it safer for paddlers to access the river during "low flow" conditions, according to the group.
The volunteers also pitched in to remove a damaged stairway, repair timber stairs and trim overgrown vegetation along a trail near the Lockhouse. The River Center at Lockhouse 8 is an educational center located in a restored Lockhouse, and is operated through a partnership between the Potomac Conservancy and the National Park Service.
The project was taken on as a part of the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, the community assistance arm of the National Park Service that supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects.
Anne O'Neill, RTCA Outdoor Recreation Planner for the NPS National Capital Region, said in a statement that paddlers will have "improved access to the Potomac River during drought-like conditions."
Pitch in for the canal
A benefit for the C&O Canal Trust, a fundraising and advocacy group geared at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, is slated to take place from 3-6 p.m., Oct. 18, at the Artists Circle Fine Art gallery, located in a renovated, timber frame barn at 13501 Travilah Road in North Potomac. The benefit will feature photographs by artist Robert Buelteman. To RSVP or to make a donation, e-mail Jenna Warrenfeltz at Warrenfeltz@canaltrust.org and include a note that the donation if for the benefit. For more information about the event, visit
Log in, report crime
Montgomery County police are introducing a new feature for victims of crime. Members of the public can log on to the Montgomery County police Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/police to report certain crimes through a new feature dubbed Online Citizen Reporting. Incidents that can be reported through the site include theft under $10,000, thefts from autos, identity theft, vandalism, tips and lost property. For more information about the new system call Peggy Lyles at 240-773-5393.
to mentor children
Bridges to Pals, a program of Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, offers support and guidance to children and adolescents in need of a one-on-one relationship with a caring, responsible adult. Twice each month Little Pals look forward to doing recreational activities with their mentors. The schedule is flexible and set by the mentor along with the child and parent/guardian. The program accepts volunteers age 21 and older who make a one year commitment, and is especially looking for male mentors. Volunteers go through training and a background check and then receive ongoing support throughout the course of their matches.
Bridges to Pals is holding volunteer trainings for those interested in this exceptional opportunity this Saturday and again on Dec. 5. For more information on becoming a Bridges to Pals volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-424-0656, ext. 523.
A matter of "life and death"
For the 13th year in a row, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park will present the much-anticipated "Life and Death on the C&O Canal." The performance features costumed interpreters acting out gory tales of life along the canal from the 1830s through the Prohibition Era along the candlelit towpath at night. The brainchild of park ranger Mark Myers, "Life and Death" is the largest program put on by the park. Yearly, it takes over 100 volunteers to present the program.
In past years, some favorite scenes include the tale of the Maryland Mine, a gold mine located at the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Falls Road, said to be haunted by "tommyknockers." Another involved the mysterious drowning death of a bootlegger during the Prohibition Era.
This year, the program is slated to take place from 6:30-9 p.m., Oct. 17, at the Great Falls Tavern, located at 11710 MacArthur Boulevard in Potomac. Tours will begin every 15 minutes. Reservations are required, and can be taken starting Thursday at 9 a.m. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors and children. Children 3 and under will receive free admission. To make a reservation, call 301-767-3714. Parental discretion is advised for this event.
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is notifying the public that parcels of land intended for agricultural use are open for bid through Oct. 23. Some of the land is located in Montgomery County. For location descriptions, maps, application forms and additional information, contact Michelle Carter at 301-714-2225 or email@example.com; or Peggie Gaul at 301-491-1743. Bid applications must be received by close of business Oct. 23.
This column is for you. Send press releases, news tips and other information to Erin Donaghue by phone to 301-280-3007, by e-mail edonaghue@ gazette.net, by fax to 301-670-7183 or by mail to 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.