Shenandoah Valley 1864 Shenandoah Valley

showmegal

Cadet
Joined
Apr 14, 2005
Location
Columbia, Mo
I'm starting to plan a Valley trip and would like any and all opinions on what not to miss. Will also include Harpers Ferry since I only saw the town when we were there before. Can anyone reccomend some good reading that covers these areas? Many thanks!
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
showmegal -

Unless you're planning a several month tour, you'll not be able to see it all in one trip.

The valley is as much an aesthetic tour as one for the Civil War. You must not miss the Blue Ridge parkway, called Skyline drive in the valley. I suggest starting at Front Royal and going as far as Waynesboro. It's 50-60 miles, but it'll take most of the day.

There are numerous battlefields. I'd go to the ones I knew something about. I'd avoid the ones in Winchester; mostly they're gone to development. Highlights include:

Stephenson's Depot - Just north of Winchester; not interpreted but pristine; part of 2nd Winchester.

Kernstown - 2 battles; the first one being the 1st in Jackson's Valley Campaign; just south of Winchester; visitor's center with knowledgeable volunteer staff open only on Saturdays.

Cedar Creek - the last big battle in the Valley; near Strasburg; well preserved; stop at the visitor's center and get the Whitehorne auto tour.

Fisher's Hill - short walking tour; beautiful area.

New Market - The only Confederate victory in the 1864 Valley Campaign; most famous for the charge of the VMI cadets; fairly well preserved but I-81 runs right through it.

Cross Key's - Pristine but not interpreted. You'd want to know something about the battle just to find your way around.

Port Republic - One of my favorite CW places; like Cross Keys part of Jackson's Valley Campaign; the park across from the Church is where Carroll almost captured Stonewall, and has lovely benches overlooking the South River. What a great place. Oh, don't miss the rest of the battlefield; the Coaling is interpreted and owned by the CWPT.

McDowell - Newly interpreted; 40 or so miles west of Staunton on 250; second battle in Jackson's Valley Campaign.

There are others too numerous to mention.

I'd also check out Luray Cavern's, the road in the middle of Massanutten Mtn., Natural Bridge and Lexington (home of VMI), the Wayside Inn for dinner (Middletown, just north of Cedar Creek battlefield), and the Turner Ashby monument (just south of Harrisonburg).

That ought to keep you busy for one tour.
 

showmegal

Cadet
Joined
Apr 14, 2005
Location
Columbia, Mo
Thanks Russ! Sorry I haven't thanked you sooner but have been busy getting my baby girl off to college! Do you know anything about Melrose Civil War Museum and Caverns? I grew up in Springfield, Va. and my folks had saved a few brochures from the Centennial years. One is about this Melrose Caverns which it says is on US 11, ten miles south of New Market, and just south of Lacey Springs. Says the museum contains the largest private collection of CW relics in Va. Caverns are supposed to have graffiti from first Fremont's men then Jackson's. I can't find anything online about it other than the owner blocked the entrance due to repeated vandalism. I called the Shen Valley associations but nobody knew anything about it. How about you? Museum was in a "magnificent old stone building". These old brochures are really something. Don't remember much of the Centennial myself as I was 2-5 years old! Thanks again!
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Showmegal -

Congrats on your daughter. I wish her the best.

I've never heard of Melrose museum or caverns. They may have gone out of business or changed names. You might try the county historical society for more.

Best of luck on your trip. If you find out anything about the museum, let us know.
 

showmegal

Cadet
Joined
Apr 14, 2005
Location
Columbia, Mo
Thanks again, Russ! Guess I'll just have to wait til I get out there next summer. I have a week off during my son's high school spring break in March but that is reserved for Gettysburg! I love being there that time of year- my only complaint is no restrooms open!
Thanks also for congrats on my daughter! She received a 5 yr full ride scholarship so I'm pretty proud of her!
 

larry_cockerham

Southern Gentleman, Lest We Forget, 2011
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Nashville
I have a cousin (historian) who will know. I'll see what he says and report back.
 

larry_cockerham

Southern Gentleman, Lest We Forget, 2011
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Nashville
showmegal, this message from cousin Jeff pretty much confirms your suspicions regarding the caverns. My Mom and Dad took me to New York several times when I was growing up in Ashe Co. NC during the 1950s. We used Highway 11 and used to stop in New Market the first night, about halfway to Rochester. I remember a stop at the Luray Caverns but not this one. This is what Jeff said:

Larry

I know there was a cavern about where described, and never
pursued it because, heard that it had been closed, (bricked
up). As for the owners, etc, not a clue.

Jeff
 

showmegal

Cadet
Joined
Apr 14, 2005
Location
Columbia, Mo
Thanks, Larry! Not what I wanted to hear but at least I know I'm not delusional! Seems a shame that that bit of history is gone. Would love to see the graffiti! Have you been back to the Valley since then?
 

larry_cockerham

Southern Gentleman, Lest We Forget, 2011
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Nashville
I haven't really been north of Abingdon for some time. That's a family reunion site. I'm slowly trying to prove an ancestor is buried in Wyndale cemetery so we can mark his grave commemorating his civil war service. My cousins are willing to help, but cemetery records are scarce. We only have family tradition that the grave next to his second wife is his. The hunt goes on.
 

sgtcsa

Cadet
Joined
Mar 8, 2005
Location
Blaine, Wa.
Shenandoah

Showmegal,
Just a little throw in from me,
As I have spent many years there, not as an actual resident of the Valley, but my parents were, and as they lived there from '77 to 2002, plus, during my teen aged years, I used to 'prowl' the likes of Front Royal, Winchester, Warrenton and Berryville, quite often. There is so much to see, so much the Valley has, in the way of War Between the States history, it's hard to narrow it down. You may just have to study up on just what you may want to see.

I suppose you could just start at the north end of the Valley, and perhaps work yourself Southward. As has been mentioned, there is much to view in the way of WBTS history, and not only that, just the beauty of the Valley itself.
Front Royal, still much to see, and still in fairly good condition as far as WBTS sites goes. The cottage of Belle Boyd, the famous Confederate spy, is there. The Warren Rifles museum is there, with some good articles of WBTS history, and a worthwhile visit. There is even a driving tour that you can take. I can send you that, right to this board.

There are other sites as you tour the Valley. Fishers Hill, still pretty much as it appeared during the War, but 'civilization' is creeping in.
Tom's Brook- It too, is still in fairly good condition, but again, development is creeping in.
Cedar Creek, in Middletown- I have been to the reenactment there many times, at least 7, and it is an awesome spectacle. That reeenactment is in Oct. on the closest week end to the 19th. Belle Grove Plantation is worth a visit there, as well, as the battle was fought over it's grounds........also Hupps Hill is fairly good and gives a good overview of the battle.
New Market- Fairly good, a lot of the battle field is still there and in fairly good shape. Beware of development creeping in around the area though. It's a worth while visit.
There are also smaller areas to visit as well, that have a lot of significance as far as the Valley is concerned,
Strasburg and Woodstock.

Then, of course, you head South, and up the Valley to Charlottesville, the home of the Univ of Virginia. Not too far away, is Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, and well worth the visit, even if it's not WBTS related.

Yes Ma'am, there is much to see and visit, and difficult to really see if you're hard pressed for time. But, it is a special place, and no matter how or how much, you choose to see any part of it, it is well worth the time you put into that visit. You will never regret it, of that I can promise you.

Respectfully yours,
SgtCSA
 
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