The Scenic and Historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
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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

Old Town Farmers Market in Winchester, Va.

Taylor Pavilion. May 16 weekly through Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 13 weekly farm and food vendors, three additional vendors on rotating basis. In-season fruits, vegetables, artisan breads, cookies, cheese, grass fed beef, gluten free bread, cured meats, jam, eggs, honey and more. All items grown or produced within a 60-mile radius of Winchester. Restrooms available.

Historic district paranormal tours in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Haunted History And Legends Tours. Walk through old town and visit a former hospital, a theater, graveyard, an old hotel and the former childhood home of Confederate spy Belle Boyd. Tours run every Saturday night from April through November, starting at 9 p.m. in June, July, and August. 7 p.m. in September, October and November. Adult entertainment for ages of 13 and older. Reservations required: $12 per person. For more information, call 304-261-7470.

Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

10 S. Market St. Antony and Cleopatra. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit

Farmers Market in Luray, Va.

Mechanic St.

Puppet theater performance in Martinsburg, W.Va.

412 W. King St. Cinderella`s Soc Hop. Runs on Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 30  at 1 p.m. Tickets: $5 for 2 years and up, free admission for ages under 2.  Sock hop dancing after the show, doors open 20 minutes before the show. For more information, call 304-258-4074 or visit

Rockbridge County Farmers Market in Lexington, Va.

Virginia Horse Center, 487 Maury River Road. Every Saturday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Featuring local produce, honey, baked goods, meats, eggs, crafts, and more. For more information, call 540-463-6841.

Woodstock Farmers Market in Woodstock, Va.

Fort Valley Nursery, 1175 Hisey Ave. Open every Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine Under a canopy within the nursery. Runs through October. For more informtion, call 540-459-4917.

Belle Grove in a Box at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

336 Belle Grove Rd. Belle Grove Plantation front yard. 30 minute interactive orientation for all ages about the history and settlement of the Shenandoah Valley, the Battle of Cedar Creek and the impact of the Civil War on the Valley. Various props from a box to visually interpret surrounding landscape features. August schedule: 27-29 at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 30 at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 3-5, Sept. 11, 16, 18, 26 and 30 at 11:30 a.m.

Rockbridge Baths Farmers Market in Lexington, Va.

Rockbridge Baths Fire Department. Featuring locally produced meats, produce, baked goods and more. Every Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., For more information, call 540-348-5084.

Waynesboro Farmers Market in Waynesboro, Va.

Constitution Park, 215 W. Main St., Under the Pavilion by the South River.  Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hosted by Project GROWS.

Music Under the Arbor at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard in Stanley, Va.

1126 Marksville Rd. Greg Ward performs acoustic music. For more information, call 540-742-1489 or visit

Supermoon Viewing in Shenandoah National Park

View perigee supermoon from the top of the highest peak in the park, Hawksbill Mountain, elevation 4,050 feet. Rangers will be stationed along the Upper Hawksbill Trail at mile 46.7 on Skyline Drive. Check in at 7 p.m. Limited parking at the Upper Hawksbill parking lot, mile 46.7., carpooling recommended. Hiking distance: two miles round trip, elevation gain: 520 feet. Maximum attendance: 100.  Other viewing spots available on east-facing overlooks along Skyline Drive and Big Meadows, mile 51. Registration begins Aug. 24, at 9 a.m., call Byrd Visitor Center at 540-999-3500 ext. 3283. Layered clothing, sturdy shoes, water and a flashlight required. Free admission. $20 per-vehicle park entrance fee.

Music Under the Arbor at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard in Stanley, Va.

1126 Marksville Rd. Greg Ward plays a variety of rock music. For more information, call 540-742-1489 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

Newgrass music concert at Lime Kiln Theater in Lexington, Va.

607 Borden Road, Lexington. An Evening with Love Canon. Bluegrass-style 80s music. Tickets: $15. For more information, call 540-817-9913 or visit

Battlefield Series historical Civil War Program in Middletown, Va.

Parking area at the Belle Grove Overseer Cottage on Belle Grove Road. The Stand of the 30th Massachusetts and 114th New York. Ranger-led program at the actual battle site. For more information, call 540-868-9176 or visit

Open House at Berkeley Art Works in Martinsburg, W.Va.

116 North Queen St. Art Works artists meet-and-greet, artistic demonstrations. For more information, visit

Grape harvest and stomping festival at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard in Stanley, Va.

1126 Marksville Rd. Blessing of the Vines harvest festival. Grape stomping, lunch and wine tasting provided for our volunteers. Subject to harvest-time availability. For more information, call 540-742-1489 or visit

Craft Beer Month in Harrisonburg, Va.

Downtown. Beweries and restaurants offer special events and promotions, new beer releases and tastings. For more information, visit

Horse shows at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va.

Wiley Arena. U.S. Hunter Breeding East Coast National Championship on Aug. 28. Sallie B. Wheeler East Coast Breeding Championship on Aug. 29. For more information, call 540-464-2950.

Comedy show at Bright Box Theater in Winchester, Va.

15 N. Loudoun St. Dan Wilson and Dionne Alexander. Early show: Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. VIP doors open at 5:30 p.m. Late Show: Doors open at 9 p.m., show at 9:30 p.m.$ AdmissionL $15 in advance, $18 at the door, $20 VIP. For more information, call 1-800-838-3006 or visit

Weekly dining festival in Harrisonburg, Va.

Downtown restaurant district. Rocktown Bites, Saturdays at 2 p.m. Self-guided tours: Six restaurants, food shops, and local businesses. Sample food, drink and behind-the-scenes sessions with local restaurateurs and chefs.

Old Town Farmers Market in Winchester, Va.

Taylor Pavilion at 119 N. Loudoun St. Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., May 16 through Oct. 31.

Outdoor Movie Series at Long Branch Plantation in Millwood, Va.

Outdoor Amphitheater. 830 Long Branch Lane. Last of the Mohicans. Admission: $5 per person. For more information, call 540-837-1856 or visit

Outdoor Movie Series at Long Branch Plantation in Millwood, Va.

Outdoor Amphitheater, 830 Long Branch Lane. Glory. Admission: $5 per person. For more information, call 540-837-1856 or visit

Farmers and artisans market in Shenandoah, Va.

Stevens Cottage, 201 Maryland Avenue Route #602. Every first Thursday of the month, June 4 through Oct. 1, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Fresh, locally-sourced produce and handcrafted goods. For more information, call 540-652-1401.

Rockbridge Community Festival in Lexington, Va.

Main St. Annual festival of downtown arts and crafts sponsored by the Lexington-Rockbridge Jaycees, Lexington Kiwanis Club, and the Lexington Rotary Club. Benefits local charities. For more information,

Literary performances in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Good Natured Market and Vegetarian Cafe, 209 Raleigh St. The Boys Club: Keegan Abernathy, Steve Altman, Mike Grady, S.C.U.M. Collaborators. Music by Edwin Ramirez: Drums of Puerto Rico. Free admission.

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Wades Mill in Raphine, Virginia

Wades Mill, or Kennedy-Wade Mill, is situated in northwestern Rockbridge County and is still in operation as a water-powered grist mill. It was originally built in 1750 and includes a 21-foot overshot water wheel.

About Hank Zimmerman

Hank Zimmerman owns and operates Shenandoah Valley Productions LLC, publisher of by Hank Zimmerman