"We're more interested in things falling apart" That's what another visitor answered when photographer John Plashal asked why people might be so interested in seeing decaying busts of the U.S. Presidents in the middle of field in Virginia. And maybe we are because these busts in pristine condition were open to the public in Presidents Park that eventually closed in 2010 for financial difficulties due in part to lack of patronage by the public. Now people from all over the world flock to the heads to marvel at their literal imposing history and decay; this Labor Day, I was one of them.
Photo by John Plashal
Technically, the Heads are not a tourist attraction as they are located on private property that is opened for public viewing through the efforts of photographers John Plashal and Fred Schneider who focus on photographing abandoned locations throughout Virginia. It was through their work that my interest was peaked about these statues.
Visiting the Heads
The Heads are located in Croaker, Virginia about 143 miles away from the Alexandria area so it is the perfect distance for a day trip adventure. The drive was easy and the entire duration was on the highway. To visit the Heads, you must purchase a ticket which are under $25 per person. Upon your purchase, you will receive an email with directions and tips for visiting from the organizers.
Best time to visit
There are two time blocks available to visit for morning or afternoon sessions. The morning session has lighter traffic, not as many visitors, and with no shade in the area, the sunlight is a little less brutal during the morning session. There are also evening sessions that are only open to mid- to professional photographers.
How to Maximize Your Visit
I highly recommend visiting sooner rather than later since the Heads are on private property and it is at the discretion of the owner to make them accessible.
There is plentiful parking but be mindful that the Heads are located in a working industrial area. The road to the Heads is full of gravel and the grass around the Heads is high and marshy. I recommend wearing durable shoes like rain or hiking boots, comfortable clothing, and carrying a bottle of water. There are portable restrooms on site a short walking distance from the parking area. There is little to no shade and no seating near the Heads.
There is plenty of space for social distancing yet have a mask handy!
Would you visit these local wonders?