The Scenic and Historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
The Euphrates Valley: Shenandoah



September 6, 1716, John Fontaine

“We crossed this river which we [named]… I got some grass hoppers and fished. And another and I ‘catched’ a dish of fish… The others went a hunting and killed deer and ‘turkies...’ The highest of the mountains we named Mount George, and the one we awed over Mount Spotswood.”

John Fontaine and his leader, Governor Alexander Spotswood, believed they were the first Europeans to see this great valley, its river, and the bordering Blue Ridge Mountains. Little did they know their 1716 expedition had been preceded by at least 47 years, and the names of the river and mountain peaks they christened would be forgotten.

In 1710 Spotswood was appointed Her Majesty's Lt. Governor, and Commander in Chief of the Colony of Virginia. We often hear Spotswood titled “Royal” Governor, but these officials almost all stayed in England during the Colonial period, not wishing to suffer the rigors of life in the New World’s “backwater wilderness.” However, Spotswood thrived in Virginia and its small, but beautiful capital- Williamsburg.

Alexander had been an adventurous military man in England and served under the Duke of Marlborough. As with many men who rose in stature, he met the “right people” and eventually found himself in Virginia, commissioned as England’s “on-site Royal Governor.”

One hundred years after Jamestown’s settlement, Virginians still lived within a hundred miles of the Atlantic Coast while areas to the west remained unexplored. Hostile Indians and thick, impenetrable forests made it risky to live, or even explore, far from eastern settlements.

Spotswood wanted to develop those western lands and possibly compete for the rich fur trade that Frenchmen had established. In 1716 he decided to take matters into his own hands and lead the first great western expedition.


[Article originally appeared on during October, 2007.]

It’s Summertime in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley!
May Flowers

Hiking on Blue Ridge Mountain trails, canoeing and kayaking on the Shenandoah, catch an outdoor concert or sip Virginia wine or craft beer at a huge variety of festivals. Shenandoah is the place to be in the Summer!

  Happening today

Music and Dancing in Raphine, Va.

Clarks Ole Time Music Center, located at Clarks Lumber Co. Every Friday from 7:30-10 p.m. Admission: $8 per person, $15 per couple. For more information, call 540-377-2490.

Guided walking tours in downtown Lexington, Va.

Meet at the Lexington Visitor Center. Every Friday at 3 p.m., from April through November. Rain or shine. No reservations required. Wear comfortable shoes. For more information, call 540-463-3777.

Bluegrass music concert at Bright Box Theater in Winchester, Va.

15 N. Loudoun St. Bud`s Collective, with The Plate Scrapers. Bluegrass music. For more information, call 1-800-838-3006 or visit

Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

10 S. Market St. The Winter`s Tale. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit

Summer Restaurant Week in Lexington, Va.

Downtown. July 26 to Aug. 1 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Local Restaurants and Retail Shops offer meal specials and special sales.For more information, call 540-319-4181.

Fridays Alive Concert Series in Lexington, Va.

Davidson Park. Gary Ruley and the Mule Train. Benefits local SPCA and Autism Center. No pets. No outside food or beverages. Free admission.  For more information, call 540-460-2656.

Summer Blue Moon Carriage Rides at Carrier Arboretum in Harrisonburg, Va.

Carriage rides through the arboretum. Pulled by Belgium and Percheron teams of horses. For more information, call 540-568-3194 or visit

Art show in Millwood, Va.

Duvall Designs Gallery, located near historic Burwell-Morgan Mill. Monthly rotation of featured artists. Open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call: 540-336-9632.

Summer Concert Series in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Town Square, intersection of King and Queen Sts. Fridays at Five. Local musicians, bands and Martinsburg artists perform jazz, rock, bluegrass, pop, classic rock, country, Americana and more. Bring your own chairs and blankets. For more information, visit

More things to do..
Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport

Blue Ridge Mountains loom in the distance at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave, Virginia

Photo by Hank Zimmerman