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30 Colonial Ave
Colonial Beach

United States

Race: Colonial Beach Sprint and International

Colonial Beach Swim Start

Colonial Beach Swim Start

Colonial Beach  is a town in  Westmoreland County,  Virginia,  United States. The population was 3,542 at the 2010 census. Possessing the second largest beach front in the state, Colonial Beach was a popular resort town in the early to mid-20t h century, before the  Chesapeake Bay Bridge  made ocean beaches on the  Eastern Shore of Maryland  more accessible to visitors from  Washington, D.C.  The family of  Alexander Graham Bell  maintained a summer home in Colonial Beach, the  Bell House, which still stands today.  Sloan Wilson, author of  The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, retired and died in Colonial Beach.  George Washington, the first President of the United States, was born near here at what is now the  George Washington Birthplace National Monument. As of 2011, the  James Monroe Family Home Site, birthplace of President  James Monroe, now has a small monument to him. A museum is planned for the future.

The town was first settled in 1650 by Andrew Monroe, the great-great grandfather of President  James Monroe, as  Monrovia. Colonial Beach emerged as a bathing and fishing resort in the late 19th century known as the “Playground on the Potomac.” Prior to automobile travel, most visitors arrived by boat from Washington, D.C. The town was incorporated on 25 February 1892 and there was extensive construction of houses, summer cottages, and hotels. Arguably the most famous of these structures is the Alexander Graham Bell house which still stands on Irving Avenue as the Bell House Bed and Breakfast.

The area was at the center of the Potomac River  Oyster Wars  between Virginia watermen and the  Maryland State Oyster Police  that lasted from the late 19th century to the 1960. The town began to gradually decline as the automobile made travel to more distant ocean beaches more feasible. However, because gambling was legal in  Maryland  and the Maryland state line ends at the low-water mark of Virginia’sPotomac River  shore, from 1949 to 1958, Colonial Beach offered  slot machines  in  pier  casinos  extending into Maryland waters. This temporarily revitalized the town although it was sometimes called “the poor man’s Las Vegas.”However, the piers burned in the 1960s in a devastating fire and the town continued to decline. In January of 2014, the historic Colonial Beach High School burned almost to the ground, leaving a charred and blackened ruin.

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