Heritage Center Art Exhibit

Connecting River Milestones…

Maryland’s and District of Columbia’s Waterways…

September 5 – October 15, 2017

Bruce McNeil

Environmental Fine Arts Photographer

All digital images are printed as 24″ x 38″ screen wraps.


  1. Birthplace of the Anacostia

    Birthplace of Anacostia River…Sandy Spring, MD, 2014

Sandy Spring, the birthplace is a tributary of the Anacostia River as a historic well in this landscape image. Sandy Spring is not just the source of the river’s Northwest Branch. The adjacent community was founded by Quakers who freed slaves in the 1700s and also was a station in the Underground Railroad, offering freedom to a steady stream of blacks escaping slavery. In the words, of the First Proprietary Governor of Maryland, Leonard Calvert, after the founding of Maryland, in a letter to a merchant in London, described, “Anacostan, ”a Latinized term as one of the three best places in the colony for trading with natives. In fact, the name “Anacostia” is derived from the Indian word “anaquash” meaning a village trading center for the “Nanchotank” Indians, a semi-agriculture tribe who were publicized as the best hunters, and fur traders that lived in the Maryland and District of Columbia region about 10,000 years ago.




  1. An Overpass View on Tilly Road

    An Overpass View on Tilly Road, Northeast Branch, PG County, MD, 2014

Imagining a time capsule of the days of yesteryears, before, settlement along the Anacostia River in this scenery image. Stretching, approximately, 8.7 mile-long, Anacostia showcase her rushing waters glistening, along the rock-lined muddy banks of adorned flora gracing the serrated shorelines. Many of the 13 tributaries are creeks and streams teeming with a form of snow or rain. Anacostia carries that water into the Potomac River where it eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay lying inland from the Atlantic Ocean.





  1. On the Jug Bay Dock Facing South

    On the Jug Bay Dock Facing South, Patuxent River Park, Upper Marlboro, MD, 2014

Transported to an era where time stood still in an idyllic choreographed dance with plush foliage as awe-inspiring onlookers in this landscape image. Archaeological and cultural resources tell the story of 10,000 years of human habituation. This 2,000 acre tract of land is composed of various natural habitats that buffer the Patuxent River and provide a critical link in conserving the area’s natural resources as a portion that has become a state wildlands area. Jug Bay Natural Area is one of the most important freshwater tidal estuaries in the Chesapeake Bay region. It is the longest river,Jug Bay Natural Area is a component of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Maryland. It is 110-miles length and the longest river entirely within the state. Jug Bay is the headquarters for the Patuxent River Park. The National Audubon Society designated Jug Bay as an “Important Birding Area,” and the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education designated it as a “Green Center.” According to historians, the second European explorers to the area was in 1608, by Jamestown, Virginia founder, Captain John Smith. He noted the name “Pawtuxunt,” an Algonquian Indian word meaning “rapids.”



  1. Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park Lookout

    Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park Lookout, Upper Marlboro, MD, 2014

A wonder of nature, welcomes an impressionistic view of a part of the river that civilizations departed ages ago. Mount Calvert’s archaeological resources span 8,000 years of human cultures with Native Americans, Euro-American and African-Americans. In 1658 Phillip Calvert patented Mount Calvert as a 1000-acre plantation. An English colonial town was established at Mount Calvert in 1684 through an Act for the Advancement of Trade passed in 1683 to assist in establishing towns throughout the Chesapeake region to encourage settlement and commerce. The town became the Prince George’s County first seat of government in 1696 and was renamed Charles Town due to its economic, governmental and religious activities. In 1721, the county seat was moved to Upper Marlboro and Charles Town gradually disappeared. From 1770 until the Civil War, Mount Calvert was a typical Southern Maryland tobacco plantation. Still, today, visitors can explore a bygone era at the 1780s plantation house that is all what remains and now serves as a museum representing three cultures.



  1. Anacostia Watershed

    Anacostia Watershed, Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Bladensburg, MD, 2015

Frequently, I return to the Bladensburg Waterfront Park in the fall and winter strolling aimless, until, I come across a sense of the place that is reminiscent of a timeless period. In this primeval image, the waters are flowing down from numerous tributaries and then filtered throughout the Anacostia watershed, before, it becomes the river itself. The mouth of Anacostia is visible through the filigree wintry trees in the background as her moving waters gleam, amongst the encrusted muddy riverbeds beautifying the stately wetlands. Anacostia watershed is a densely populated and developed area with more than 800,000 residents. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that less than 10% of the original wetlands and farms remain. This 176 square mile area of land encompasses most of the eastern half of the District of Columbia and large portions of Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland.



  1. Entrance to Anacostia River

    Entrance to Anacostia River, Bladensburg, MD, 2015

Discovering Anacostia River eternal beauty and vibrancy define me as both artist and environmentalist. The lush plant life and tree canopy along the river are captured in this landscape image. Equally important to the composition is the sunlight and cloud formation, which reflect on the water and produce an awe-inspiring scene. This photograph was taken from another pedestrian bridge in the area. Literally, one of the few places that Anacostia becomes immortal of contentious events and priceless milestones that shaped the United States of America at the loss of what was once a major and thriving river. The Town of Bladensburg was a busy governmental designated tobacco and inspection port, shipping out flour and tobacco, until, the river silted up by 1800 due to extensive soil erosion from upland tobacco farming. From steering any ocean-going vessels due to its depth of forty feet to grounding the smallest boats, this was the beginning of what Anacostia became the most “forgotten river” and one of the “most polluted,” until the late 1990s. After the closing of the port, and the horrendous War of 1812, the area still prospered due to its strategic location and proximity to the growing nation’s capital.


  1. Night Emanates…11th Street Bridges

    Night Emanates…11th Street Bridges, Washington, D.C. 2016

Night comes. Anacostia River and the sky envelope each other, as powerboats are returning from an outing on the waters that predates the birth of modern-day Washington. I shot this natural photography while standing on the 11th Street Bridge facing west adjacent to the home of the U.S. Navy personnel. Since 1800 there has always been an evolving or in the works 11th Street Bridge at the same site that connects Capitol Hill to east of the river neighborhoods. The complex of three bridges convey, Interstate 695 across the Anacostia to its southern terminus at Interstate 295 and DC 295. Historians observed that the original bridge played a major role in the War of 1812. It burned in 1846. After extensive repair, it was replaced in 1873, and again, in 1907. During the 20th century and throughout the 21st, until, today, 11th Street Bridges has undergone large-scale transformations and expansions to match the changing times of increased population and city growth and development. In 2019 the 11th Street Bridge Park is slated to be open.


  1. Looking at the U.S.S.Barry, Last Sunset

    Looking at the U.S.S.Barry, Last Sunset, Washington, D.C., 2016

This landscape image was shot while standing on the shores of Anacostia Park. The brilliance of the fiery sunset lowering in the background mirrored the crimson waters as an adieu to the notable USS Barry (DD-933), a destroyer, before, it was schedule for the dismantlement in Philadelphia in 2016.  The outcome produces a vibrancy where each element reverberates and celebrates the other. Since 1983 the USS Barry was a museum ship and special events venue located in the Anacostia River at the Washington Navy Yard. After World War II, the U.S. Navy commissioned eighteen destroyers as the first new warships with advances in jet technology and eight vessels in the class, including the Barry were equipped with enhanced anti-submarine capabilities.




  1. Rush Hour on John Philip Sousa Bridge

    Rush Hour on John Philip Sousa Bridge, Washington, D.C., 2015

In this landscape, I reflect on the controversial topic about the abundance of wildlife on the Anacostia despite the recent failing F grade warranted by the toxic and pollutants that are still present. These charismatic seagulls create joyful aerial acts for any birdwatcher or artist. On view is the John Philip Sousa Bridge (1854 – 1932) or Sousa Bridge, first built in 1804, and now a continuous steel plate girder bridge carries Pennsylvania Avenue across the Anacostia River is in the background located in southeast. Named after the legendary Washingtonian patriot, composer and conductor of patriotic and military marches (136) lived near the bridge’s northern boundary.




  1. Anacostia Meets Potomac At Buzzard Point

    Anacostia Meets Potomac At Buzzard Point, Washington, D.C., 2015

By the time, British explorer, Captain John Smith’s, first visit to the area in search of the main branch of the celebrated Potomac River, Anacostia was well-established as a fortified trading destination for Native Americans, as far away as New York. He recorded the year of, 1608 as he mapped the river and documented his great experiences. Anacostia appeared on the oldest map, published in 1612 as “Nancotchtank.”  Smith wrote about his friendly encounters with the “Anacostans,” who lived at the confluence of the Potomac River and Anacostia River in what is now Washington, D.C. on the banks of east of the river. According to cultural anthropologists, Native Americans still classify the Anacostia River, by its original name, the Eastern Branch of Potomac River.



Environmental Fine Arts Photographer