By Lowell & Kaye Christie, F47246
As we sat in the garage searching through a box labeled “Shenandoah Valley Memories,” thoughts of that beautiful valley made us long to return. We enjoyed our first visit there, and after rereading those stored materials, we’re pining to return to this part of northwestern Virginia. Here’s updated information about some of our favorite sites.
As for camping, we stayed cool in the Shenandoah National Park campground and used our towed car for each day’s adventure.
1. Shenandoah National Park, Luray
This national park is east of the Shenandoah Valley, running along a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You’ll enjoy the beauty of trees and flowers, as well as an occasional spectacular view of the valley below. But carry your hiking boots “” the Appalachian Trail runs through the entire length of the park. Call (540) 999-3500 for more information.
2. New Market Battlefield State Historical Park, New Market
In the words of poet Walt Whitman, the Civil War was “a strange, sad war.” Among the Civil War battles that were fought in Virginia, few are as poignant as the one in New Market, where 257 cadets from nearby Virginia Military Institute (V.M.I.) joined Confederate forces to make the difference between victory and defeat. While at the park, visit the 19th-century Bushong Farm and the Hall of Valor Civil War Museum. Each May, on the weekend closest to the battle anniversary, the park hosts a re-enactment. Call (540) 740-3101 for more information.
3. Bedrooms Of America Museum & Pottery, New Market
Do you like old furniture and want to learn more about it? This museum features 11 rooms of authentic furniture representing every period of America’s bedrooms, from William and Mary (1650) through art deco (1930). The rooms also are furnished with period accessories, bed coverings, curtains, and wall coverings. The museum is housed in a restored 18th-century building. For more information, call (540) 740-3512.
4. An abundance of caverns
We were in spelunker’s heaven in the valley with a list of caves that included Crystal Caverns, near Strasburg; Dixie Caverns, near Salem; Endless Caverns, near New Market; Grand Caverns, near Grottoes; Luray Caverns, near Luray; Natural Bridge Caverns, near Natural Bridge; Shenandoah Caverns, in the town of Shenandoah Caverns; and Skyline Caverns, in Front Royal. We didn’t have the time or endurance to visit them all, but those we did see left us breathless. Call the Virginia Tourism Corporation at (804) 786-2051 for more information.
5. Luray Caverns, Luray
Of all the caverns in the area, Luray Caverns deserves a special mention. You’ll be astonished to see its natural cathedral and to hear the world’s only Stalacpipe Organ. The sound is surprisingly good, since the stalactites are tuned to concert pitch and are struck by electronically controlled, rubber-tipped mallets. An hour-long guided tour leads through this wonderland of vast chambers, some 10 stories high. Topside, don’t miss the Luray Singing Tower, a carillon of 47 bells ranging in weight from 12-1/2 pounds to 7,640 pounds. Free 45-minute recitals are given from April through October. For more information, call (540) 743-6551.
6. Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown
More than two centuries ago, the foundation for Belle Grove “” the home of Major Isaac Hite Jr., grandson of Jost Hite, one of the first permanent settlers in the valley “” was laid. Future president James Madison and his wife, Dolly “” whose sister, Nelly, was married to Isaac Hite “” spent part of their honeymoon there. We haven’t visited every Southern plantation, but next to Monticello, this is probably our favorite. Daily tours are conducted from April through October. For more information, call (540) 869-2028.
7. Glen Burnie Historic House & Gardens, Winchester
First opened to the public in 1997, the home originally was owned by Winchester’s founder, Col. James Wood. The Georgian brick manor house dates to 1797 and remained in the same family until Julian Wood Glass Jr. died in 1992. He is credited with renovating the house, designing the formal gardens, and filling the home with 18th-century furniture and art. After his death, the home was opened to the public. (If you plan to see several sites in Winchester, consider purchasing block tickets. They will get you and the family into additional sites at a reduced price.) Call (888) 556-5799 for more information.
8. Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters Museum, Winchester
Confederate Gen. Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson used the private home of Lt. Col. Lewis T. Moore as his headquarters during part of the Civil War. His office remains much as it was during his stay, including his own artifacts, plus those of other Confederate leaders. The house is open daily from April through October. Call (540) 667-3242 for more information.
9. Abram’s Delight Museum, Winchester
This is the oldest house in Winchester, built in 1754 by Isaac Hollingsworth. Abram’s Delight “” so dubbed after Abraham Hollingsworth proclaimed the area “a delight to behold” in 1735 “” has been beautifully refurbished and furnished with period pieces. It’s open from April through October. For more information, call (540) 662-6519.
10. Patsy Cline gravesite, Winchester
Every year thousands of country music lovers travel to Winchester and pay their respects to beloved singer Patsy Cline, who was born and buried there. A bell tower was erected in her memory at Shenandoah Memorial Park, where she is interred. Patsy Cline Weekend takes place in the area the first weekend of September; proceeds from the event go toward establishing a Patsy Cline museum. Call (800) 662-1360 for more information.
11. The Burwell-Morgan Mill, Millwood
In 1782 Lt. Col. Nathaniel Burwell and Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan decided to start a joint venture “” a gristmill to serve the farmers of the Shenendoah Valley. Interestingly, it provided feed and supplies to both the Federal and Confederate armies during the Civil War. The mill discontinued operation in 1953, but functions as a museum today. Its wooden gears and great wheel date back to the 1750s. The mill is open for tours from May through October. For more information, call (540) 837-1799.
12. Historic Long Branch, Millwood
This 400-acre estate boasts an illustrious past. The property has been owned by several famous men, including Lord Culpepper, Lord Fairfax, and Robert “King” Carter. What’s more, George Washington helped survey the property. The mansion was built in 1807 by Robert Carter Burwell along lines suggested by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who designed the U.S. Capitol. By the 20th century, the estate was in decline. Henry Z. Isaacs bought the property in 1986 and restored it to its previous grandeur. Long Branch is open for guided tours from April through October. Call (888) 558-5567 for more information.
13. Natural Chimneys Regional Park, Mount Solon, Virginia
Natural Chimneys Regional Park has seven natural limestone towers, each with prominent bands indicating deposits laid down over the centuries. You can get more from the experience than amazement and a sore neck, however, by enjoying the park’s nature trails, swimming pool, and campgrounds. The Natural Chimneys Joust has been held here since 1821. On the third Saturday in August, “knights” from several states congregate to vie for the highest score. For park information, call (540) 350-2510.