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Fifty years ago this year…Dedication of the Mather Gorge on the Potomac

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

At the top of the Homestead attic stairs is a moderately-sized cardboard carton. It contains an assortment of printed materials, magazines, and several copies of the National Parks Magazine of June 1969. On page 12 begins an article titled “Scenic Tribute to Stephen Mather.”


On April 17, 1969, two and a half miles of the Potomac River gorge was dedicated to Stephen T. Mather, the first director of the National Park Service. The dedication was attended by Bertha McPherson, Stephen’s daughter. Stephen McPherson, Stephen Mather’s grandson, delivered dedicatory remarks. (see photo 5 below)


Today the Mather Gorge remains a popular destination for canoeists and kayakers. Mather Gorge is the site of the annual Potomac Whitewater Festival, which includes a downriver race through the large rapids.


From a Trip Advisor reviewer: “If anyone had told me that this park existed just a few miles west of Washington DC, I would not have believed them. I felt as though I was deep in the mountains.

Hats-off to the National Park Service!”


And, of course, to Stephen T. Mather.


Photo five below:

Foreground: Stephen McPherson, Bertha Mather McPherson,

Bertha’s grandson, Stephen Mather McPherson, Jr.




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