Tour 4 -- White Post to Berryville via Millwood
Clarke County, “The most English county in the Valley”
At only an hour’s drive west, rural Clarke County makes for a perfect day trip from the DC Metro area; it’s about an hour-and-a-half drive from Baltimore. Its most famous resident was a wealthy English baron named Thomas, the Sixth Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who set up a land office here in 1749 and gave a 17-year-old named George Washington his first job. Many landed gentry from the state’s Tidewater area built get-away mansions here in the late 1700s and early 1800s to escape the summer heat and humidity.
White Post is a tiny village with one distinctive feature: its white signpost, sitting right in the middle of the main intersection. Don’t knock it down as you’re driving through. The story goes that Lord Fairfax instructed the young George Washington to erect a similar directional sign here, a short distance from Greenway Court, where Fairfax lived and worked. Several very old homes can be seen here, including Long Branch, an beautiful old mansion open for tours seasonally. From there, the tour proceeds to the State Arboretum of Virginia/Blandy Experimental Farm, a research arm of the University of Virginia.
The next stop is Millwood, where a restored 1785 stone mill still operates on summer Saturdays. The village’s several antique stores and gourmet grocery/eatery make Millwood a good midday stop.
The tour then goes into Berryville, known in its frontier days as Battletown for the drunken brawls that used to spill out into the streets from the local taverns. One of the brawlers who turned out okay was Revolutionary War General Daniel Morgan, who wasn’t born in the Shenandoah Valley but spent most of his life here. A museum in an old house on Main Street does a good job of telling the area’s story.
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