The Lee Highway - Washington to Warrenton
The Lee Highway enters Virginia from Washington, DC over a more than 80 years old historic structure.  The Francis Scott Key Bridge, opened in 1923, carries six lanes of the Lee Highway (US 29) over the Potomac River.  The concrete open-spandrel bridge contains six main arches and construction took nearly six years to build.  It is an impressive beginning to the Lee Highway as it heads west to and through the numerous cities and suburbs of Northern Virginia.

Today, Arlington is one of the busiest and most densely populated cities of Northern Virginia.  Not far from the Lee Highway is the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.  Within Arlington County, The Lee Highway travels through five distinct neighborhoods, two of which include 'Lee' in their name, Lee Harrison and Lee Heights.

A brief section of the original Lee Highway in Arlington does not utilize US 29.  Just west of Interstate 66, the original Lee Highway follows VA 309.  The Lee Highway rejoins US 29 when VA 309 crosses the highway again just east of Glebe Road (VA 120).

Another section of the original Lee Highway runs into Downtown Fairfax.  It begins at Fairfax Circle where US 29 joins US 50 to bypass the city.  Located off the Old Lee Highway is the Blenheim Estate.  Located on the grounds is a nearly 150 year old brick house which is considered the home of the most voluminous and well-preserved artifacts of Civil War solider graffiti in the nation.  The estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

To follow the original Lee Highway through Fairfax follow Old Lee Highway to VA 236 West then turn left back onto US 29 South.

If you decide to stay on US 29/50, known as Fairfax Blvd., you may want to stop at the 29 Diner aka Tastee 29 Diner.  Located at the intersection of US 29/50 and VA 123, the diner has been in existence since 1947 and is open 24 hours.

Northern Virginia is full of history, and the Lee Highway runs through the heart of one of the most defining moments in our nation's history.  The only two lane section of US 29 in Virginia runs through Manassas National Battlefield Park, site of the First and Second Bull Run (Manassas) battles in the American Civil War.  Two historic structures from the battle sit within a few hundred feet of the Lee Highway.

First, the Manassas Stone Bridge.  This site of this stone arch bridge was a key point in the First Battle of Manassas.  It was Confederate forces stationed here that the first canon shot was directed at.  After their defeat a year later in the Second Manassas, the retreating Union Army would destroy the center span of the bridge.  Years later, a new stone arch bridge was built to carry the Warrenton Turnpike, predecessor of the Lee Highway and US 29, at the same site, it still stands today.  (See top photo at right.)

The second historical structure that can be seen from the Lee Highway is the Stone House.  The house, one of only three standing pre-Civil War structures within the park, was used as a makeshift refuge and hospital for wounded soldiers in both battles.  The house has been property of the park service since 1949. (1)  The restored home is usually manned by a park service guide that gives detail about the stone house's role in both battles.   In numerous places on the building's exterior are unexploded wayward cannon shot that became lodged into the stone.  (See bottom photo at right.)

Currently, plans are being studied to build a bypass for US 29 around the battlefield park.  Both the Lee Highway and VA Route 234 carry a heavy volume of traffic through the park.  As a result, Congress passed the Manassas National Battlefield Park Amendments of 1988 requiring studies for a bypass route of the battlefield park. (2)  The study is currently in the Final Environmental Impact Study stage.


Photos taken by Mike Roberson;
February 2006.


Site Navigation:
  • Continue East on the Lee Highway towards New Market 
  • Continue South on US 29 and the Seminole Trail through Warrenton to Culpeper
  • Return to the Lee Highway Index



    Sources & Links:

  • (1) Northern Virginia Relic Hunters Association. "The Stone House Restoration." (June 25, 2006)
  • (2) Manassas National Battlefield Park Bypass Status Page. "Overview." (June 25, 2006)
  • Mike Roberson
  • Arlington County, Virginia ---Official Site
  • Arlington Virginia Chamber of Commerce
  • Fairfax County, Virginia ---Official Site
  • City of Fairfax, Virginia ---Official Site



    Page Created: June 25, 2006
    Last Updated: December 17, 2006

    © 2006 Adam Prince