In 1822 Commodore John Rogers designed and built the first marine railway in the United States. The purpose of the railway was to haul ships out of the water for repair or preservation of their hull. Before this time, ships needing hull repairs were hauled on shore at high tide and careened on their sides to expose half of the hull at a time. This first railway was demonstrated to a congressional group using 140 sailors to haul the Navy's new frigate Potomac out of the water. This so impressed the distinguished group watching, which included President James Monroe, that Rogers was asked to submit his designs to the Navy Department. Most recently the railway was used to maintain the Presidential yacht which berthed nearby. The cradle used to haul the vessels out of the water has been removed but the winch house is still standing at the head of the incline. (Located behind the model basin.)
Experimental Model Basin
In 1897-98 the model basin was designed and built under the supervision of Naval Constructor David Watson Taylor. Scale ship models were towed the length of the 470-foot basin while scientific and photographic equipment measured the effect of water on the hull. At the time of its completion, the basin was the largest and best equipped in the world and became the center of the Navy's hull design activity. This basin became increasingly inadequate for the tests the Navy required so a new facility, the David Taylor Model Basin, was dedicated in 1939 at Carderock, Maryland. The old basin was filled in and the building used for storage. Adjacent to the building Taylor designed and built the Navy's first wind tunnel in 1931[sic-14. It was constructed of wood and was eight feet square at the observing booth with a capability of generating air velocity of 6,000 feet per minute.