Cheverly's Streams


Do You Know Our Seven Cheverly Streams?




  • Quincy Run is piped underground until it leaves Cheverly and runs to the Anacostia River. It is the only Cheverly stream not part of the Lower Beaverdam Creek Watershed.


  • Tributaries 1, 2, 3, and 4 run southward to join Lower Beaverdam Creek


    • Tributary 1 runs along the western boundary of Euclid Woods.

    • Tributary 2 is almost entirely below ground, flowing in pipes largely under Valley Way.

    • Tributary 3 begins at Gast Park and is piped to Woodworth Park, continuing above ground to join Lower Beaverdam Creek.

    • Tributary 4 runs from Cheverly Oaks Drive through woods to join Lower Beaverdam Creek.


  • Cabin Branch runs northward along Boyd Park, turning west to join Lower Beaverdam Creek.


  • Lower Beaverdam Creek runs westward to join the Anacostia River.


Cabin Branch and Lower Beaverdam Creek


Cabin Branch runs northward along Boyd Park and westward through the Old Fourth Ward to join the main branch of Lower Beaverdam Creek to continue to the Anacostia.


The largest of Cheverly’s natural areas, the Boyd Park-Cabin Branch Hub, includes the floodplains of Lower Beaverdam Creek and Cabin Branch, and Boyd Park. The floodplains preserve the largest patches of wildflowers in Cheverly. Boyd Park is especially rich in spring ephemeral plants such as blue violet, trout lily, spring beauty, toothwort, and May apple. The creeks support species found only around water, such as ducks, herons and kingfishers, beavers, and even the occasional otter. Boyd Park contains a small patch of hardwoods whose understory includes pawpaws. The park also has a hard surface fitness path, a playing field and picnic area, and the Cheverly Community Gardens. The floodplain is under federal protection, but its vegetation is severely threatened by invasive species such as lesser celandine.


Only a short length of Lower Beaverdam Creek runs through Cheverly. In the nineteenth century the creek, then known as Beaver Dam Branch, powered at least one mill. The industry we now see along Lower Beaverdam Creek grew only after 1948, following an M-NCPPC plan opposed by Cheverly. Earlier, in 1933, Cheverly residents had successfully protested against a brewery on the creek, south of the present Metro parking lot. Until 1947-1948, when trunk sewers were installed along the creeks, raw sewage was routinely discharged into Lower Beaverdam Creek and Cabin Branch. In 1946 Cheverly parents were warned to keep their children out of contaminated Lower Beaverdam Creek. In recent years the Town of Cheverly and Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek have supported annual stream cleanups involving hundreds of college students from midwestern states.


In coming years we will see the effects of recent WSSC and Pepco activities along Cabin Branch and Lower Beaverdam Creek in Cheverly.


Tributary 1


Running from about halfway between Greenleaf Rd and Hawthorne southward to Lower Beaverdam Creek, this tributary formed the eastern boundary of a 1685 patent named White Lackington, later called Whitlentine, and the western boundary of the North Kenilworth subdivision (1910). It drains the western portions of Greenleaf Road and Hawthorne Street, as well as Euclid Woods, hospital hill and parts of the Cheverly Industrial Park. Hospital parking lot storm drains feed the tributary. Runoff from the adjacent sports field creates erosion, sending sediment into Tributary 1 and Lower Beaverdam Creek. Euclid Park and Euclid Woods was the site of an African-American subdivision known as North Kenilworth. Platted in 1910, it was annexed to the Town of Cheverly in 1958, and is owned by M-NCPPC. Matt T. Salo serves as steward, and occasionally guides tours. Check with him (mtsalo1@gmail.com) for dates.


The stream runs through a deep ravine, having plunged about 18 feet from its level at Greenleaf Road. A wall of large riprap between the upper and lower streams is intended to slow the water. Several types of ferns, dogwood, and native azaleas may be seen in and near the gorge. The soil in the stream, of mixed silt and clay, is easily eroded, and often forms picturesque but relatively short-lived grottoes and small waterfalls.The streamside area includes a spring and a freshwater wetland.


Like forests of other natural areas in Cheverly, Euclid Woods, the forest buffer of Tributary 1  is a mid-successional hardwood mix and a woodland of diverse microhabitats. There are tulip trees, red maples, black gums (tupelos), southern magnolias, American beech, and several species of oaks and pines. Shrubs include several viburnums, spicebush, elderberry, and sweetshrub. Wild yam is an interesting vine growing here.  You may also see partridgeberry and native grasses, box turtles laying eggs, deer, both red and gray foxes, strawberrybush, and spotted wintergreen.A small area, the “Red Desert,” supporting vegetation typical of pine barrens, is unique in Cheverly. The pines there were planted by Cheverly Boy Scouts in 1973. Among the birds seen along the stream and in the woodland are the towhee, barred owl, woodcock, ovenbird, Louisiana waterthrush, pileated woodpecker, eagles, and yellow-billed cuckoo. For a full inventory see Life in Cheverly in the sidebar.


Tributary 3


Tributary 3 is one of five Cheverly tributaries feeding Lower Beaverdam Creek. Tributary 3 begins in a natural spring just south of the Gast Park triangle and once ran above ground generally along Parkway, present Cheverly Park Drive and Wayne Place. It was open for its full length through 1946. In 1969 the above-ground portion began at Forest Road. Since the 1970s it has been piped until it reaches Laurence Woodworth Park. Tributary 3 is also fed by the storm drains of a large part of Cheverly, all reaching a single outfall at Woodworth Park. The stream runs through the park, then through State Highway Administration land and under route 50 and the CSX and WMATA tracks before reaching Lower Beaverdam Creek. Modifications to the stream were made in the construction of route 50, as well as by beavers, who created a pond and dams on the SHA property.

Woodworth Park is unique in having a wide variety of terrain, from hilly upland to a marsh fed by Tributary 3. The marsh filters and purifies the water, enabling the downstream part of the creek to support a variety of aquatic life. The park also includes some very old trees, mountain laurel, native azaleas and a small population of wildflowers. Woodworth Park has been the focus of educational, stream restoration and invasive-plant removal activities by Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek. Ferns, May apple, and jack-in-the pulpit appear in the spring in an area in the flats to the east of the stream where Japanese honeysuckle and English ivy have been removed.  Shrubs which usually occur in wetlands are found in the same area: spicebush (lindera benzoin), southern arrowwood (viburnum dentatum), and strawberry bush (euonymus americanus). A 3/4 mile long trail allows hiking between Cheverly Community Center and Cheverly Ave. through a variety of habitats. Take a virtual tour at https://sites.google.com/site/cheverlygreenplan/cheverlysgreenspaces/cheverly-s-streams-springs-and-wetlands/virtual-tour.



Tributary 4


Tributary 4, in Cheverly’s newest sections, runs through the East Park Hub of the Cheverly Green Infrastructure Plan, M-NCPPC’s Cheverly East Park woods, and an open area owned by the Town of Cheverly. The area was formerly part of Cheverly Gardens, a 1904 subdivision of full and half-acre tracts “specially adapted for chicken raising and truck gardens.” Tributary 4 is the only one of Cheverly’s northern streams that remains above ground for nearly its full length. It is now fed largely by storm drainage from area streets, and largely for this reason is bereft of aquatic life. A Maryland Department of Natural Resources Stream Corridor Assessment faulted the large stormwater outfall structures, severe streambank erosion, and lack of sufficient tree buffer to prevent that erosion.


Some creek restoration has been conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers for M-NCPPC. Additional tree buffer will help filter pollutants and prevent erosion of the stream banks. Homeowners who plant rain gardens will help reduce the volume, velocity, and temperature of rainwater into the stream and slow streambank erosion.


The woods bordering the stream have a diverse population of native trees, including some old and large trees. The strawberry bush is the most abundant native in the well developed shrub layer. Removal of the invasive plants could allow the previously rich herbaceous layer to recover. For a full plant inventory, see Life in Cheverly in the sidebar.


Take a virtual tour at https://sites.google.com/site/cheverlygreenplan/cheverlysgreenspaces/cheverly-s-streams-springs-and-wetlands/virtual-tour. When you visit our natural areas, remember – Take only pictures, leave only footprints, and tread lightly to preserve our natural treasures.


For maps, photos, and more about our streams, go to "Cheverly's Green Spaces" in the sidebar.


Where Does Our Water Come From? Where Does It Go?


Incoming


The water we use for drinking, cooking, watering lawns, and all other household needs is brought from the Rocky Gorge or Triadelphia Reservoirs in the Patuxent River watershed, or from the Potomac River. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (www.wssc.com) has the responsibility for the water system.




Outgoing


The used water from your sink and bathtub drains and your toilets runs through sewer pipes to treatment plants. Since the sewer pipes were laid to take advantage of gravity, they are found in the lowest areas, often parallel to our streams. The sewer system is also the responsibility of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

Water from the heavens


You may have read about communities, such as the District of Columbia, where both wastewater (sewage) and stormwater are directed into the same system, called a combined sewer system. Cheverly does not have a combined sewer system. Here the sewage and stormwater systems are separate.


Rainwater, sometimes called stormwater, is directed from our roofs into gutters and downspouts. From there it flows into our rainbarrels, into our yards, or often through pipes into the streets. There it joins stormwater flowing from sidewalks, driveways, roads and other impervious surfaces to storm drains. You can keep rainwater on your property to reduce the amount entering the storm drain system.


Along the way it picks up soil, leaves, trash, oils and other pollutants. The water heats up from the streets and gains speed as it moves downhill through the storm system pipes.


In Cheverly, these pipes direct the stormwater into our streams. The speed of the stormwater helps cause stream erosion, and the heat may make stream life impossible. The trash and pollution further threaten the living creatures that depend on the streams.


Around town you will find that the storm drains are marked to remind you never to use them to dispose of oils, paints, and other pollutants. The storm drain decals were a project of the Cheverly Green Infrastructure Committee.
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