Skip to Main Content

Washington, DC: George Washington's Hippo

George Washington's papers mention a "hippopotamus" in the mud of the Potomac River near Mt. Vernon. It was probably just a dredging machine, but the students at George Washington University decided to take the word literally, and unveiled a small bronze hippo in 1996 named "GW's River Horse," along with a plaque inviting visitors to rub its nose for good luck.

21st St. NW, Washington, DC
On the campus of George Washington University, on the southwest corner of H St. NW and 21st St. NW, in front of Lisner Auditorium.
Save to My Sights

Visitor Tips and News About George Washington's Hippo

Reports and tips from visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.

Hippo statue.

George Washington's Hippo

The hippo statue in a cute area of the college section of DC. Good luck finding parking!

[Vance Erwin, 09/20/2014]
Potomac River Horse

In the middle of George Washington University's campus sits a hippopotamus statue. It's not terribly large, but the plaque situated beneath it is amusing...

"GW's River Horse
Legend has it that the Potomac was once home to these wondrous beasts. George and Martha Washington are even said to have watched them cavort in the river shallows from the porch of their beloved Mount Vernon on summer evenings. Credited with enhancing the fertility of the plantation, the Washingtons believed the hippopotamuses brought them good luck, and children on the estate often attempted to lure the creatures close enough to the shore to touch a nose for good luck.

So, too, many generations of students of The George Washington University.

Art for wisdom, Science for joy, Politics for beauty, And a Hippo for hope."

[Elvis Presley, 06/19/2001]
Roadside Presidents
Roadside Presidents App for iPhone. Find this attraction and more: museums, birthplaces, graves of the Chief Execs, first ladies, pets, assassins and wannabes. Prez bios and oddball trivia. Available on the App Store.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Two-Faced Ingrid BergmanTwo-Faced Ingrid Bergman, Washington, DC - < 1 mi.
Sit On Einstein's LapSit On Einstein's Lap, Washington, DC - < 1 mi.
Ugliest Public Sculpture in DCUgliest Public Sculpture in DC, Washington, DC - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Madonna of the Trail, Bethesda, MD - 6 mi.

Latest Tips Across Roadside America

Catch up on the latest discoveries from the road.

Explore Thousands of Oddball Tourist Attractions!

Unique destinations in the U.S. and Canada are our special obsession. Use our attraction recommendation and maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Create Your Own Bizarre Road Trips! ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Petrified Wood Park Museum, Lemmon, South Dakota (May 29-Jun 4, 2023)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings