Tour 1 -- Martinsburg: Northern Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley
Orchards, Civil War, and an Old Railroad Station
This tour leaves I-81 north of Winchester and follows scenic and historic backroads into Martinsburg, WV. At a little more than an hour’s drive from Washington, DC, and Baltimore, and about three hours from Philadelphia, this historic area is easy to get to and—combined with the next tour—offers a variety of sights and activities to fill a weekend or a week. The area is rich in history, a witness to hard times during the French and Indian War as well as the Civil War. Martinsburg’s founder, Adam Stephen, was a general under George Washington in the American Revolution, and two other Revolutionary War generals retired in this area.
The area south of Martinsburg, where the tour begins near Clearwater, was settled by Quakers in the 1730s, when they built a log meeting house called Hopewell. The beautiful stone structure that replaced it around 1760 still stands and has been in continuous use since.
Martinsburg has long been an important crossroads and railroad hub. The successor to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad still runs through town (as well as Maryland’s MARC train and Amtrak’s Capitol Limited line connecting Chicago and Washington, DC). You can view exterior of the restored 19th-century roundhouse, shops, and old hotel of the original B&O depot—and learn how General Stonewall Jackson audaciously made off with several hundred railcars and locomotives from here in 1861.
Many interesting old homes and buildings line the downtown streets. In fact, some 3,000 properties here are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A walking tour of the town’s historic districts is available from its visitor center on North Queen Street; a driving tour of the town appears in Touring the Shenandoah Valley Backroads.
To learn more about the Shenandoah Valley’s history and its scenic backroads, and for detailed driving directions and more in-depth information for the tours on this website, get a copy of Touring the Shenandoah Valley Backroads (2nd ed., 2010; ISBN 978-0-89587-3-866; $19.95) by Andrea Sutcliffe.
It’s available through your favorite bookseller (go to www.indieBound.com to find an independent bookstore near you), at many Shenandoah Valley gift shops and museum stores, or directly from the publisher, John F. Blair www.blairpub.com, 1-800-222-9796.
Original text and photographs for the tour descriptions on this website © 2012 by Andrea Sutcliffe