Trail Guide Map 8
This portion of the hiker/biker trail is 1.0 miles long. Following Maple Avenue south takes one to an Historic district of Old Takoma Park. It has a good stock of Victorian and Craftman style homes from as early as 1890. BTW, the Takoma Metro station can also be reached by following Maple Avenue for about a mile, then going west on Carroll Street for a few more blocks.
Commanding an approximately 50 acre site on the hill over-looking the creek from the north, is Washington Adventist Hospital and The Washington Adventist University. Both date back to the early years of the last century. The hospital is scheduled to leave the site during the next decade, but the University of some 1500 students will stay.
The boulder-strewn creek flowing by the hospital reveals the ancient geology of the area. Beginning some 450 million years ago sediment collected at the bottom of a narrow sea was subjected to tremendous heat and pressure from over-lying mountains likely as massive as the current Himalayas. Here and there quartz may be seen; just above the Carroll Avenue bridge, a striking vein spans a couch-shaped feature known as Meditation Rock. See Sligo’s Amazing Geology for more details and photos of the local geology.
On the right bank of the creek about a hundred yards below Maple Avenue, a stream called Brashear’s Run joins the creek. The visible part of the tributary is only a stub of a drainage that extends underground all the way up to the ridge where the Metro runs. Water from the two six- foot outlets regularly contain detergents and other contaminants from somewhere in the underground labyrinth. The Friends of Sligo are working with the County to try to pinpoint where these illegal discharges originate (see Water Quality). Despite the problems with water quality, even in this waterway, waterfowl including Mallards, Wood Ducks, and Black-crowned Night Herons are occasionally seen, probably helped by the cover provided by the thick woods here.
Moving along, Carroll Avenue Bridge is the most striking man-made structure in the park. The current graceful concrete bridge, built in 1932, is being reconstructed at this writing (October 2016); an intriguing process to watch. The temporary pedestrian bridge reachable from Carroll Avenue provides an excellent vantage point of the construction and the creek. Our website contains plenty of information with photos of the Historic Bridges over Sligo Creek. Among other things, it describes the previous bridges at this site, including the tragic accident that occurred during the demolition of the one built in 1909.
The paved trail passes under the bridge, then crosses the creek twice in rapid succession, settling down on the left bank. After a few more hundred yards, the creek and trail make an abrupt turn skirting a playground. As there are welcome benches and picnic tables, this is a fine place to pause and reflect on the story of the notorious Glen Sligo Hotel.
The playground and surrounding level area was once a mill pond. Back in 1812, a mill was built where New Hampshire Avenue now crosses the creek. Upstream about where Flower Avenue now crosses the creek, a dam was built creating a pond. From the pond a millrace carried water more or less following the route of the Parkway to power the mill.
By 1900, the mill was no longer operating, and the site was acquired by Alva M. Wiswell, a real-estate promoter and investor. He built a hotel on top of the hill rising from the right bank of the pond along present day Heather Avenue. The Glen Sligo had eight rooms, a bar and large dance pavilion. A trolley line called “the Dinky Line” connected the resort to down-town Takoma Park. As added attractions he re-furbished the mill and pond for visitors. Unfortunately, a storm damaged the pond in 1901 just when Mr. Wiswell was suffering financially from an unfortunate investment in a gold mine out west.
A group of gamblers bought the hotel and after hooking it to telegraph lines, by 1903 were proud owners of a successful establishment specializing in horse race track information and convenient placing of bets. There was also a pool room on the premises. This whiff of unsavory activities rankled certain members of the community, who encouraged Sheriff Ben Hardesty to take action. Despite some legal uncertainties such as not having a warrant, the Sheriff led a raid that sent a strong signal to the owners of the enterprise. By 1904 the hotel had closed; by 1905, the trolley tracks were removed; and by 1920 the hotel and mill were torn down. This colorful chapter in the history of the area is more thoroughly explored, supplemented by photos, in our website (Glen Sligo Hotel).
The trail from Flower Avenue to New Hampshire Avenue crosses the creek three times in a fairly short distance. Long Branch comes in from the north after the last footbridge, but there is no convenient way to explore that part of the park from the main paved hiker/biker trail. Just up from New Hampshire Avenue, a bronze memorial notes the tragic deaths of two firemen (Robert Harman Jr. and Robert C. Hobstetter). They drowned there in 1969 while attempting to rescue a family trapped by flood waters from a heavy storm.