The Old Angler’s Inn, with its almost century-old tradition as a center of comfort for travelers, bon homie and gracious living, embodies in its location and legend much of what an historian meant in writing that the Potomac Valley “was a region which is distinguished, for here men and events fashioned designs for the nation to follow and act upon.”
Near the site of the Inn, the Indians of the Algonquin Nation maintained a post for their “traveling traders” after whom the Patauomeck River (Potomac) is named. Not far from where the Inn stands, Captain John Smith made camp on his canoe trip up the river in the summer of 1608.
Young George Washington, as aid to General Braddock during the French and Indian Wars, crossed the Potomac nearby on his way to fight the French at Fort Duquesne. Washington also designed the locks on the canal which can be inspected at various nearby points along the canal.
On July 4, 1828, President John Quincy Adams shoveled the first earth at nearby Little Falls, to mark the beginning of the canal which made the Valley a main artery of ante-bellum commerce and travel. The Old Angler’s Inn was opened in 1860 to serve those journeying to and from the Nation’s Capital, and also to serve the gentleman and ladies of the capital and the great estates which graced the Maryland countryside.
During the Civil War, couriers with urgent dispatches from the Capital and officers and men of units of both North and South found respite at the Inn.
In 1864, gold was discovered by a California soldier who returned after the War to operate a mine successfully there until 1880. One of the owners of the gold mine was so appreciative of the fine food and the many hours of good company he found at the Inn that he presented the proprietor with a set of solid gold fishing hooks fashioned from the ore of the mine. (It is after these hooks that the “Order of the Golden Hook,” which makes its headquarters at the inn is named.”)
Teddy Roosevelt stopped here to hunt and to fish in Widewater, a naturally formed link of the canal lying at the foot of the slope on which the Inn rests. Its rugged rock formations give it the appearance of an unruffled mountain lake.
In 1957, John Reges, a prominent Washington attorney, purchased the Inn for his wife Olympia. Over the next few years Olympia restored the Inn to make available once again the Inn’s charming setting, the hospitality, the fine foods and carefully-chosen beers, wines and liquors, in the same tradition which has made the Inn a Capital landmark.
Olympia Reges continued to run the business through the 1980’s. Unfortunately over the next decade the Inn lost its way and by her death in 2005 the Inn had fallen out of favor for many patrons. Luckily, ownership remains with the Reges family and the second generation has taken over operations and has worked tirelessly to restore the Inn’s charm and beauty. Today, we are proud to say that the Inn is once again one of the most charming settings in the Washington area and provides a culinary experience in American comfort food with a modern twist.
The tradition continues!