Quarries for Washington
Arlington is not known for its vibrant Italian community, but actually at one time there was a small section of the County known as “Little Italy.”
In the Marcey Creek ravine there once lived about twenty-four Italian and Sicilian quarrymen who worked the quarries on the Potomac Palisades near the mouth of Pimmit Run, Gulf Branch, Donaldson Run, Marcey Creek and Spout Run. These quarries once produced the building material for many structures in the Washington area.
Two types of stone were quarried: rubble to crush for use on streets and roads, and larger stones for construction. Among the buildings that used the stone included Georgetown University, St. Patrick’s Church, the Hains Point seawall, and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. The last quarry closed in 1938.
In preparation for the George Washington Memorial Parkway’s construction in the mid 1950’s, the National Park Service acquired the quarry land, including the area known as “Little Italy” where the last three remaining quarry workers remained. The above photograph shows a waterfall in one of the quarries after it was turned into parkland.
Guiseppe (Josh) Conduci and his brother Carmelo (Carl) Conduci and Phillip Matoli had lived peacefully there after the quarries closed down, raising and selling flowers. Their only extravagance was pure olive oil for cooking. Friends stepped in to find homes for them, but forced to move from the only homes they had known for so many years was wrenching, and a sad ending to what was once Arlington’s early “Italian community.”
What About You?
Do you remember the quarries on the Potomac Palisades? Let us know what you remember!