Every time  I facilitate a volunteer service project here at National Mall and Memorial Parks, I do a site recon with our Volunteer Coordinator.  This weekend’s project is at Hains Point.  I came to wonder why it’s called Hains Point?  So i did some research and boy did I find some interesting stuff!!!

Have you ever heard of Peter Conover Hains? Well, if you haven’t, don’t feel bad neither did I.

Peter C. Hains, 1862. Photo by James F. Gibson. Library of Congress

Born in 1840, Hains started out as a nobody.  He grew into a soldier and an engineer that would change Washington DC forever.  

During the Civil War, Hains was assigned the honor of firing the first shot at the Battle of Bull Run.  He soon rose to the rank of Captain after the Battle of Vicksburg, where his innovation and brilliant siege design are honored with a monument.  

After the war, Hains transferred to the US Army Corps of Engineers. He was responsible for the design and construction of many lighthouses, including Morris Island Lighthouse and the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

From 1882 to 1891, Hains worked as chief engineer on the Potomac and Anacostia River. Here’s why he is so important to Washington D.C.  This guy is the one responsible for the creation of the Tidal Basin.  Without his ideas and designs, this city would still be a swampy 650 acre stinkhole.  He is also responsible for the George Washington Memorial Parkway that runs from Washington to Mount Vernon, which is also one of the busiest commuting roads and a national park.  

Biker on Hains Point
Biker enjoying the beauty of Hains Point

Imagine what DC would be like without his accomplishments.  It would not be the shining “backyard of the USA”, that’s for sure.  Unless we all morphed into pigs and liked rolling around in swamps.  

The millions of people who come to DC every year would not have bothered.  Our country itself would be different, the National Mall would probably be located in a different city and so much would have been lost!
It is just crazy that I did not know this man and what he has done to improve the Nation’s Capital.  People need to know about the unsung heroes in their communities and share their stories with the world.  So I challenge everyone reading this to find unsung heroes in their community, past or present and share their stories!