Beck's Great Falls of the Potomac

2 of 4

"the celibrated falls of Potomac" to Meriwether Lewis

The Great Falls of the Potomac River, fourteen miles upstream from Washington, D.C., consists of a series of cascades and rapids dropping a total of about seventy-six feet over a pitch of two-thirds of a mile, the greatest drop being about twenty feet.1

Great Falls of the Potomac

by G. Beck (c. 1748-1812)

Beck's Falls of the Potomac

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Engraved by J. Cartwright, London. Aquatint, hand-colored; 1802.

Notice the diminutive admirers, their arms outstretched in amazement, lending scope and majesty to the scene before them. Compare this interpretation with James Olmstead's photograph.

The Great Falls of the Potomac

James Olmstead

photo, falls of the Potomac

© 2002 James Olmstead


1. "The Great Falls of the Potomac, Montgomery County." Maryland Geological Survey,