A Real National Treasure: Mount Vernon - PassPorter.com
PassPorter.com
Award-winning travel guidebooks
Home Florida - Walt Disney World Caribbean - Disney Cruise Line California - Disneyland Resort Anywhere and Everywhere! Travelers Store Message Boards PassPorter's Club Help!
  About Us  |  Customs Office   |   Register Your Book   |   Book Updates   |  Newsletter  |  Articles  |  Photos  |   Follow Us on
       LINKS
       ARTICLES
Globetrotting Planning Articles

Globetrotting Traveling Articles
52 Hours In the Cairo Airport
A Guided Tour
A Real National Treasure
A San Francisco Treat
A Trip Back In Time
A Trip Back In Time
Adventure to Washington, D.C.
Adventures by Disney
Adventures by Disney
Airline Security
Amish Country
An Insider's Guide
An Insider's Guide
Arlington National Cemetery
Bath, England
Buckingham Palace
Busch Garden Africa's SheiKra
CARES Child Restraint System
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
Celebration, Florida
Charleston, South Carolina
Costa Rica Adventures by Disney
Discovering "America's Finest City"
Disney's Vero Beach
Disneyland
Dover Castle
Driving Through The Night
Escape Into Alcatraz
Eurostar
Explore Alaska (From The Comfort of Your RV!)
Explore Alaska (From The Comfort of Your RV!)
Flying to Europe for a Disney Cruise
Flying to Walt Disney World from the West Coast
Flying Upper Class
Flying with Kids
Fort Sumter
Greeter Programs
Harry Potter's
Helsinki, Finland
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Hilton Head Island
Hong Kong Disneyland
How to Handle A "Bumpy" Flight
I Dream Of Hawaii
In a New York Minute
iPhone, I Travel
Kapalua, Maui
Keeping Kids Happy on Long Car Rides
Kent, England
King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
Las Vegas
Las Vegas for Families
London, UK
Los Angeles
Macau
Madison County, New York
Molto Italia
More Than Bridges
My First NASCAR Experience
Nashville, Tennessee
National Aquarium
New Orleans
New York City
Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Not Your Average Bus Tour
On the Road to Walt Disney World
Oslo, Norway
Oxford
Paris
Passport Update
Playing the Waiting Game
Port Canaveral, Florida
Prince Edward Island
Redondo Beach, California
Rome
Salem, Massachusetts
Small Is Beautiful
Small Is Beautiful
Southwest and JetBlue
St. Louis
Stockholm, Sweden
Stonehenge
Tahiti
The Amtrak Auto Train
The Auto Train
The Emerald Isle
The Globe Theatre
The Grand Canyon
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Other Side of the Falls
The Quest for the West
The World's Loveliest Castle
To Rent or Not To Rent
Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo DisneySea
Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions
Traveling Carry-On to Walt Disney World
Traveling With Extended Family
Universal
Using Orlando's "Other" Airport
Vermont by Bicycle
Viva Italia!
Viva Italia! Part 1
Viva Italia! Part 2
Viva Las Vegas!
Vive la Difference
Washington D.C.
What To Do While Waiting for a Flight
When Does Your Walt Disney Vacation Really Begin?
When to Visit Walt Disney World
Wimbledon
Windsor Castle
Winter Wonderland
Yosemite
Your First Trip to Universal Studios Orlando

Globetrotting Lodging Articles

Globetrotting Touring Articles

Globetrotting Dining Articles

Globetrotting Making Magic Articles

Globetrotting General Travel Articles

View all PassPorter articles
PassPorter's
Article Tools
Print Article
Download PDF
View Photos
Visit Forum
Read Comments on This Article

A Real National Treasure: Mount Vernon

by Erik Johnson, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 4/17/2008
  

Cool Tip: Click here to get a FREE PDF version of this article, fully formatted to print and put into your PassPorter Deluxe Binder!


Filed in Articles > U.S. Travel > Traveling  

We recently took a day trip to Mount Vernon, Virginia, to explore George Washington's famous plantation overlooking the Potomac River. This area is worthy of a full day excursion because of all the interesting things to see regarding the Father of our Country. We chose to take the "National Treasure" tour, which features locations used in the Disney film, "National Treasure 2 - Book of Secrets."


The day of our trip dawned a partly cloudy but nice 52 degrees. We enjoyed a scenic drive along the George Washington Parkway, parked very close to the entrance, and were able to get inside before a very large youth group. The visitor's experience is run very smoothly - you get oriented quickly and are provided just the right amount of information so as to avoid excessive questions. We purchased our admission tickets which included the limited-time "National Treasure" tour and the add-on for the newly re-constructed distillery and older grist mill (which is located about three miles away). (Ticket prices are available on their web site.) Because we had arrived later than planned, we decided to skip the 20 minute orientation film and proceeded to the area in front of the mansion itself, where the special tours begin. As we had a little bit of time before the tour, we examined some of the out-buildings (re-constructed, of course) on the way, while dodging the allure of the gift shops. Clearly the Mount Vernon Ladies Association (MVLA), which owns Mount Vernon, has been taking lessons from Disney...

In Washington's time, many people worked to support the plantation, and that is very much in evidence here. One concept that has finally been embraced is to acknowledge the fact that Washington was a slave owner, instead of glossing over the issue as was done previously. This makes him seem much more like a real person and less like a marble statue on a pedestal to marvel at. I think that makes him more of a role model and less of a legend.

We walked around the north side of the Upper Garden and we met our trench-coated guide, John Marshall (formerly of Pittsburgh), who now works at MVLA's Customer Relations. John told us that there really is a tunnel, a cornerstone and a vaulted room in the basement, just like in the movie! He then took us around to the river side of the mansion for a better view of the property. You can really tell that it is on a mount in comparison to most of the surrounding countryside. He explained to us that even though Mount Vernon is only in the film for five minutes, it took three weeks for the crew of hundreds to record what was needed for the film. Apparently, it was very chilly during the shoot and the extras had to constantly be reminded to remove their coats. The exteriors were filmed at night, with a lot of lighting equipment, prompting many calls to the authorities about suspicious activities ranging from space aliens to illegal activities.

After obtaining the key, John led us down into the cellar. We could see the rough-hewn beams and supports along with some curious copper flashing that we figured out was there to prevent termite infestation (I wish we had some of that copper in our own old house). He then pointed out the vaulted room that was re-created back in Hollywood, as well as the cornerstone that actually has George Washington's elder half-brother Lawrence's initials on it (LW instead of GW as in the film). Lawrence owned the estate until he died in 1754, when ownership passed to George. The MVLA had to install air conditioning in the mansion, because even though the doors remain open much of the time, the heat and moisture from the hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors would take an increasing toll on the structure and furnishings. The structure of the cellar would also suffer if they offered tours year-round or if a film crew worked here for weeks, so it was re-created on a sound stage.



After leading us out of the cellar and locking the door, John led us to the edge of the lawn and showed us where the spring house and the riverside opening to the tunnel is located. The tunnel connects the mansion and the riverside to make it easier to haul ice from the river to the ice house. So, there really is a tunnel at Mount Vernon, but its purpose is not mysterious at all, but very practical for a very busy 18th century plantation that produced food for profit and to sustain the plantation's residents. We then made our way down to the river's edge and saw the garage that was built into the hill to house the chemical fire truck that Henry Ford donated in 1923. Ford was concerned that the mansion could burn down before other fire equipment could arrive. We learned that even though the mansion looks like stone, it is actually made of textured wood. John had to end our tour there at the river's edge, but our experience today has shown us that Hollywood can do a very good job of making something mundane into something mysterious!

Today's Mount Vernon is well preserved and has many recently reconstructed buildings, like the 16-sided threshing barn. This building was designed by Washington to make the threshing of grain more efficient. A surplus of grain allowed him to make money from the production of flour and whiskey (more about that later). Before we left Mount Vernon, we went to the food court for lunch. The selections were similar to what you would find at a mall. We then went back over to the Ford Orientation Center and watched a very interesting orientation film, introduced by Pat Sajak.

Then we went back to the mansion and were pleased to find that even though the queue was much longer than it had been earlier in the day, it moved quickly. One rule that is strictly enforced is no photographs inside the mansion. (The gift shops have books with very good photos.) The mansion is very well furnished, in a style similar to homes in Williamsburg and Philadelphia's Liberty Hall. After a brief stop in the museum and gift shop, we packed up and drove over to the gristmill and distillery.

In order to produce the flour and whiskey, Mount Vernon had a grist mill, a distillery, and a barley malting operation located at Dogue Creek, three miles from the mansion, where there was better terrain for the water-powered operation. This site is also operated by the MVLA and the distillery was recently brought back into working condition. It even turned out a small batch of whiskey in 2007. Samples were not available during our visit, but they will be making commemorative products soon. The distiller told us that it was not aged, and therefore we would probably not enjoy the taste of it. The gristmill is very interesting and can grind both wheat and corn because it has two sets of millstones. It is ingeniously designed, with mostly wood parts that can be replaced. Mount Vernon is a wonderful place to visit on a spring day. I hope everyone gets a chance to enjoy this "National Treasure."



About the Author:
Erik Johnson grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and works in the city, but still loves to explore the area's many interesting sites. He lives in the country with his wife Kendra and their sons and dogs and cats.

Related Links:


Traveling Carry-On to Walt Disney World - Avoid Those Baggage Fees last updated 3/2/2011
New York City - Something Old, Something New last updated 01/02/2009
On the Road to Walt Disney World - Doing "The Drive" last updated 01/20/2009
Airline Security - 10 Important Tips and Reminders last updated 1/21/2009
Sick at Sea - (But Not Sea Sick!) last updated 5/14/2009




Reader Comments:


It is quite worth a day. The main house is not as big as we expected

     jimmymac on May 1, 2008 @ 12:33 pm
View all 1 comments in forum thread

So what do you think? Click here to share your comments, feedback, and experiences on this article and topic!

(Note: You must be a member of our PassPorter Message Board Community to leave comments. Join today for free!)




Updated 4/17/2008 - Article #166 



Read additional articles from PassPorter.com

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

E-mail Address:

First Name:

E-mail Format:
-Text/Don't Know  

-HTML

 
 

We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Copyright 1999-2014
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

       SEARCH
       LEARN MORE
Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks


 

RSS General PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel - Getting There (and Back!): Your Journey to Walt Disney World
PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disn...
By car, plane, or train -- share your tips, plans, and experiences with others! Forum Sponsored by Quicksilver Tours & Transportation


Nashville airport
by Iris
18 Sep 2014 at 10:37am
Where does my husband park to take me and my luggage inside? He will then leave once I'm inside. Thanks for your help?
(click title above to view replies)

Baby and formula on a plane?
by kalsmomma
17 Sep 2014 at 9:44pm
I need to know if I am allowed to bring powder formula and water in her bottles ? I see juice, formula and milk but I don't see anything about being...
(click title above to view replies)

Liquid, gel, etc question
by disneydreamer33
17 Sep 2014 at 3:50pm
Ok, my DH, DD and I are in an argument and I need my fellow PPers to help tell us who is correct. I know a lot of you travel by plane to Disney and...
(click title above to view replies)

airlines
by pixiemom
17 Sep 2014 at 9:33am
I posted a day ago about booking with two different airlines for going and coming home but now my other concern is or question is.......... do most...
(click title above to view replies)

2 airlines [anyone ever used one for departure and one for return?]
by pixiemom
16 Sep 2014 at 12:54pm
Quick silly question, but has anyone ever booked a flight with one airline going and another air line coming home? I see decent prices going to...
(click title above to view replies)



Total Visits: 5211

TING!
You've discovered a PassPorter's Club Concierge Tip!
Ting the bell to read your tip and save it in your Concierge Desk!


PassPorter ~ 1998-2014 ~ 16 Years of Making Dreams Come True!
Publishers of bestselling travel guidebooks and proud recipients of 13 national book awards
About PassPorter
About Us
Site Map
Press
Privacy Policy
Images & Artwork
Guidebooks
About
Previews
Buy
Reviews
Updates
Features
News & Updates
Articles
Podcasts
Photos
Message Boards
Newsletter
Concierge Desk
Desktop
Trips
Books & E-Books
Tips
Settings
Customs Office
Register Books
Book Updates
Contests
Checklists
Help & Info
Finding Answers to Questions
Help Desk
Using Your PassPorter Forum
Store Customer Service
E-Mail Us
Follow Us
PassPorter.com Front Page (Updated Daily!)
PassPorter Newsletter (weekly and free)
Latest Posts
Facebook
Pinterest
YouTube Channel
Questions? Check our Site Map and visit our Help Desk to learn how to contact us online, by e-mail, and by phone.
Please feel free to link to this page so that other vacationers can find it.