Date: 3/30/17 9:30 am
From: <sjsuter29...>
Subject: [MDBirding] DC / VA boundary
> From: Gail Mackiernan <katahdinss...>
> It is my understanding that the shoreline up to high tide belongs to D.C.,

In general, that is correct (although from the 1880s until an early 1930s Supreme Court decision, the boundary was defined as the low tide line). However, in Alexandria south of 2nd Street, the boundary follows a pierhead line defined by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1939. That line (which appears on all subsequent USGS topographic maps) places nearly all of the docks and most of the pilings along the Alexandria waterfront in Virginia. For those interested, a history of the boundary accompanied by maps and annotated photos can be found at

Interestingly, downriver the VA/MD boundary is defined along the low tide line except where it follows straight lines between headlands (to leave coves, inlets, and affluent creeks and rivers in Virginia).

Sherman Suter
Alexandria VA 22307 / Port Republic MD 20676

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