Sign-Up Become a Member
  • Get Involved with Rock Creek Conservancy

Test your knowledge of Rock Creek Park by answering the following 30 questions that begin with the five Ws


It's time to separate the Rock Creek Rookies from the Park Prodigies. Your exam is part trivia, part history, part nature—and all in fun. The answers are at the bottom. Good luck!

1. Who were the contrabands?

2. Who were six Rock Creek valley property owners who have roads in or near the park named after them?

3. Who were the demonstrators who walked through Rock Creek valley on the first "march on Washington"?

4. Who was the Whitehurst Woman?

5. Who wrote: "We would arrange for a point to point walk, not turning aside for anything.... On several occasions we thus swam Rock Creek...when the ice was floating thick upon it"?

6. Who did the House of Representatives vote to name Rock Creek Park after — in 1890?

7. Who was the TV western star who, early in his career, played New York Governor George Clinton in a historic pageant in Rock Creek Park?

8. What activity was prohibited in Rock Creek Park beginning in the summer of 1936?

9. What two National Parks were authorized before Rock Creek Park?

10. What does the inscription on Peirce Mill "BIP 1829" stand for?

11. What are the two stone structures along Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway just north of the K Street overpass?

12. What tributary of Rock Creek has resumed its natural flow after being coursed through a pipe since the 1930s?

13. What 1993 movie has a scene set at a West Virginia cabin but filmed in Rock Creek Park?

14. What three wild species related to dogs can be found living in Rock Creek Park?

15. What kind of living things are the lichen we commonly find on park rocks?

16. What piece of the Rock Creek Park system was completed in 2011 along the Potomac River?

17. What word fills in the blank of this 1922 Washington Post report on a nighttime parking ban within the park: "It is manifestly unfair to penalize all the people because the park authorities are unable to cope with the ________ situation in Rock Creek Park"?

18. When did Rock Creek Park become part of the National Park Service?

19. When did the NPS set aside one lane of Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway for bicycle commuters?

20. Where is the landmark that completes this 1864 Evening Star report: "The hills, trees and fences within sight of _________ were covered with human beings quite a number of whom were ladies"?

21. Where is the home country of the first champion of a pro tennis tournament on Rock Creek courts (in 1969)?

22. Where did Smokey Robinson perform his final concerts with the Miracles?

23. Where was the park's first Nature Center located (beginning in October 1956)?

24. Where in the Rock Creek Park system can you conduct wedding ceremonies by special permit?

25. Why did a powerful searchlight sweep the night sky from Rock Creek Park November 6, 1928?

26. Why do most alphabetical streets west of the park (e.g. Albemarle, Brandywine, Chesapeake...) have different names than those east of the park (Allison, Buchanan, Crittenden...)?

27. Why did the reconstruction of the Wilson Bridge improve the ecology of Rock Creek?

28. Why is a stone—located about 100 feet from the northernmost point of Rock Creek Park—considered significant?

29. Why are local naturalists so interested in a tiny shrimp-like invertebrate known as the Hay's spring amphipod?

30. Why are dog owners required to keep their pets on-leash within the park?


1. The word contraband referred to African American slaves who fled the Confederacy and were put to work by the Union army. A large group of contrabands was based at Camp Brightwood, just south of Fort Stevens. Many of these workers helped build the fortifications around DC, often at little or no pay. The first contrabands were classified as property, essentially "contraband of war" that would not be returned since their labor would have aided the rebel cause. Federal policy declared contrabands to be free in August 1861.

2. The Peirces: Peirce Mill Road (off Park Road); the Klingles: Klingle Road; the Shoemakers: Shoemaker Street (off Tilden Street); Thomas Blagden: Blagden Avenue; John Quincy Adams: Adams Mill Road; dairymen George & Joseph Wise: Wise Road. [Daniels Road (now Oregon Avenue), Moreland Road (Utah Avenue) and Swart Road (27th Street) had also been named after local property owners.]

3. Coxey's Army was a group of unemployed workers demanding public works programs in response to the economic depression of the 1890s. Their unlikely leader was rich businessman Jacob Coxey. In 1894 they walked from Ohio to the Capitol, holding their final camp near the park's present-day recreation area along 16th Street—then marching into town through Rock Creek valley along the old Piney Branch Road.

4. Whitehurst Woman is the name given to the Native American whose cremated remains were found (along with a number of American Indian artifacts) about 250 feet east of Rock Creek near the Whitehurst Freeway. She may represent the first wave of Algonquians into the area some 1,300 years ago.

5. Theodore Roosevelt led family, friends and associates on rambles to a distant point—testing his companions on their ability to go "over or through, never around."

6. With the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' first voyage to America just two years away, the House voted to call the new public land "Columbus Memorial Park." In conference committee, the Senate's preference of Rock Creek Park won out, but the law retained a House mandate that half the cost of purchasing land for the park be borne by DC.

7. Pernell Roberts, the future Adam Cartwright on Bonanza, appeared in the historic pageant Faith of Our Fathers.

8. Car washing

9. Yellowstone (1872) and Sequoia (established two days before Rock Creek Park in 1890). Yosemite — set aside by Congress for preservation in 1864 but ceded to California as a state park — was named a national park four days after RCP. Congress gave federal protection to Hot Springs Reservation in 1832, but didn't make it a national park until 1921. Mackinac National Park was established in 1875 but decommissioned in 1895.

10. Either "Built by Isaac Peirce" or "Betsy and Isaac Peirce," plus the year the mill was finished.

11. They are all that remain of Godey's Lime Kilns, which melted limestone brought downstream along the C & O Canal. The original four ovens—in use from 1833 to 1908—mainly produced "quicklime" used to seal masonry.

12. The Broad Branch stream was "daylighted" in 2014.

13. The Pelican Brief. The scene was shot in the narrow strip of the park near 18th and Shepherd Streets in Crestwood.

14. Red foxes, gray foxes and coyotes

15. Lichens represent a combination of at least two types of living things. What we see are fungi. However, they collect moisture and provide shelter for algae and/or cyanobacteria—allowing them to grow in inhospitable conditions like the surface of a rock. Through photosynthesis, the other organisms supply nutrients for the fungi.

16. Georgetown Waterfront Park

17. Spooning

18. Although the National Park Service was established in 1916, Rock Creek Park was not added to the system until August 10, 1933. At that time, the service was called the Office of National Parks, Buildings and Reservations. So, technically, RCP was not part of the NPS until the National Park Service name was restored March 2, 1934.

19. In 1971, the park service tried reserving one lane of the parkway for bicycle commuters. The experiment lasted just a week after drivers complained about traffic jams. Bicyclists did receive one lasting benefit: the NPS paved the equestrian trail from Connecticut Avenue south to Virginia Avenue as a biking/hiking path.

20. Fort Stevens. Spectators who traveled from the city for an outing instead witnessed killing and chaos. The battlefield was strewn with bodies of the dead and dying. Nearby homes were destroyed, and others were burned by Union troops to take cover away from retreating Confederate soldiers.

21. Brazil. Thomaz Koch defeated Arthur Ashe in five sets in the final of the first Washington Star International.

22. Carter Barron Amphitheatre. Highlights from the three performances July 14-16, 1972 were released later that year as the double album Smokey Robinson and The Miracles 1957-1972 (also part of the 2004 Miracles CD set, The Live! Collection).

23. Inside the Klingle Mansion.

24. Meridian Hill Park, Montrose Park, and the garden of the Old Stone House.

25. The 300-million-candlepower searchlight (and a twin at the District Building) gave DC residents presidential election results. If Al Smith was in the lead, the lights burned continuously. If they flashed on and off, Herbert Hoover was ahead. A pilot also flew over the area firing red or green flares to indicate the leader.

26. On August 14, 1901, the DC Commissioners announced a plan for naming streets in more than 100 subdivisions, mainly east of the park. East-west streets would continue to be arranged in alphabetical order—but they had to be named after famous Americans. So familiar names west of the park—like Albemarle and Brandywine—were not used in the new developments.

27. To mitigate damage done to other streams by Wilson Bridge construction, the project removed barriers in Rock Creek that prevented fish from swimming upstream to spawn. The most ambitious measure involved building a fish ladder around the Peirce Mill dam.

28. It is DC's northernmost Boundary Stone, marking the tip of the diamond shape that formed the original District. Sometimes called the oldest federal monuments, 40 stones were inscribed and put in place in 1791 and 1792.

29. It is believed to be the only endangered species living in the park—and the park is its only home.

30. Dogs that venture off trails trample and erode wild areas, fragmenting habitat and taking "safe zones" away from wildlife. Their fur can spread the seeds of invasive plants. Even the friendliest dog can appear to be a threat to park visitors (and some dogs truly are). Keeping dogs on-leash allows owners to control interactions with other dogs and wild animals. Dogs that play in the water are at risk from bacteria and chemical pollutants in the creek.


Click here to download V is for Volunteers

Click here to download U is for US Presidents, Part 2 of 2

Click here to download U is for US Presidents, Part 1 of 2

Click here to download T is for Trees

Click here to download S is for Sports

Click here to download R is for Roads

Click here to download Q is for Quotations

Click here to download P is for Peirce

Click here to download O is for Olmsted 

Click here to download N is for Neighbor

Click here to download M is for Meridian Hill

Click here to download L is for Laws

Click here to download K is for Kids

Click here to download J is for the Joaquin Miller Cabin

Click here to download I is for American Indians

Click here to download H is for Horses

Click here to download G is for Geology

Click here to download F is for Fords

Click here to download E is for Ecology

Click here to download D is for Dumbarton

Click here to download C is for Carter Barron

Click here to download B is for Bridges

Click here to download A is for Animals

Click here to download the Introduction


Pin It