A stretch of road in the West End, today extending from Duke Street south toward the Capital Beltway, was evident on Civil War-era maps. Known for decades as Lincolnia Road, the road traveled from the Lincolnia community along the Little River Turnpike south on a route today made up of South Whiting Street and part of South Van Dorn Street below Edsall Road.
This photograph, taken in 1952, shows Lincolnia Road less than two months after it became part of the City of Alexandria as a result of the West End annexation from Fairfax County. Facing north, the image shows wooden bridges across Backlick Run and was underneath where the overpass near Courtney Avenue is today.
Following annexation, many of the West End streets were to be named for Confederate officers, like Beauregard, Pickett and Pegram. In 1953, the section of Lincolnia Road south of Edsall was renamed for General Earl Van Dorn.
The low-lying area was subject to flooding and at times the road at Backlick Run was impassable. A graded railroad crossing to the south also posed risks. Two men were killed in 1959 when a train struck their truck, prompting installation of warning lights there and at other crossings in the city.
Lincolnia Road originally reached Edsall Road just to the west of where they meet today. In the early 1960s, South Van Dorn Street was rerouted slightly to the east, widened, and extended to Duke Street. At the same time, new industrial development emerged in the area, with Newton Asphalt among the earliest. This development was directly connected to the planning and construction of the Capital Beltway and its interchange with Van Dorn.
Out of the Attic is provided by the Office of Historic Alexandria