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

Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

10 S. Market St. A Midsummer Night`s Dream. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit

Summer Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series at Carrier Arboretum in Harrisonburg, Va.

780 University Blvd. Edith J. Carrier Arboretum pavilion. Dr. James McNeil from the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation presents Fireflies, Sustaining Nature`s Lights. For more information, call 540-568-3194 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.

Wildlife Discovery Camp at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Millwood, Va.

Burwell-van Lennep Island Farms, 930 Tilthammer Mill Road. Schedule runs June 24 through Aug. 19, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 29: Hawks and Eagles: Amazing Hunters. Be prepared and dress for day-long outdoors. Rain or shine. Admission: $25 per participant. For more information, call 540-837-9000 or visit

Retro Movie Wednesday at Hulls Drive-In in Lexington, Va.

2367 N. Lee Hwy. Grease. PG-13. Begins at dusk. Admission: $10 per carload. For more information, call 540-463-2621.

More things to do..
Hupps Hill Museum and Visitors Center in Strasburg, Virginia

Hupps Hill overlooks Strasburg, Virginia. The hill is still fortified with Civil War trenches that still exist today, along with a museum and visitor center.

Photo by Hank Zimmerman