The dream of America's first president, George Washingtion, was to create a navigable means of transport and trade on the Potomac River, connecting the east and the new federal capital, Washington D.C. to the west and the Ohio River Valley. Perhaps the largest obstacle was Great Falls, an area of river with an eighty foot drop over less than a mile. A series of five locks raised and lowered boats safely around the falls--a considerable engineering feat for the time. The small town of Matildaville rose to service those traveling through the locks--strange fact: the town was named by its founder, revolutionary war hero Harry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) for his first wife, Matilda Lee. In the long run, the river was too fickle for consistent travel--water levels fluctuated greatly and navigable days were limited to a month or two each year.