Monday, July 9, 2012

History of Cherrydale / Lyon Village

There is a geocache down in Lyon Village that talks about this history of Cherrydale.  One geocacher added the following history:
Dreamer of Pictures nabbed this one while awaiting fulfillment of a prescription at CVS on another blast furnace afternoon, just before the weather gave us a break.

Cherrydale is adjacent to the Lyon Village community where my wife and I grew up. I can add a few tidbit to the history, notably in the gap between rail history events.

In the late 1950s the area where the shopping center now stands was occupied by multiple tall trees and one business, a small hardware store that offered consumer services such as lawnmower blade sharpening. It was located roughly in the middle of what is now the shopping center, almost hidden from the streets around it. My dad shopped at the hardware store and sometimes took me along.

A freight rail line, the W&OD, operated along the north side of the property, crossing above Lee Highway on an old iron bridge. The rail line delivered product to a Hechinger's lumber yard in Rosslyn, long before Rosslyn became Baby Manhattan. The line also served a cinderblock factory that resided along Spout Run in a ravine next door to Washington-Lee High School, between Quincy and Stafford Streets.

In the early 1960s, a second business appeared in the former cherry orchard, along the Lee Highway edge of the forest. It was a small amusement park, with pony rides and a few simple ride machines for young kids. That of course was impossible for young kids to ignore, and  every family car ride past the place caused the kids to beg for pony rides.

Across Lee Highway, near where the Walgreens now stands, was a Hot Shoppes, the first Marriot success story, with a fairly diverse menu and lots of ice cream. It was inevitably the destination for all Washington-Lee High School marching band members after each football game on Friday nights. The restrooms were in the basement. Due to inadequate pipes under Lee Highway for the nearby Spout Run , heavy rains would overflow the Run and flood the restrooms right up to the top of the stairs.

When Richard Nixon became president in 1969, he told the local political leaders that the long-delayed I-66 would become a reality while he was in office, using federal funds. With the right-of-way along the W&OD, and an exit planned adjacent Lee Highway, the businesses evacuated. The amusement park moved briefly to the Four Mile Run area by the south end of Arlington Ridge Road, until they learned that flooding was even more frequent and more severe there.

A number of local residents, including yours truly, organized an effort to stop I-66 construction. We had some victories, and delayed construction through much of the 1970s. The highway certainly has become the nightmare we predicted back then. Now the state government is pushing to add lanes to I-66 in Arlington, a ridiculous 1950s response that will only postpone the real solution: telework.

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