The Scenic and Historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
 
Everyone's a cousin at Brocks Gap Heritage Day

Brocks Gap in the Shenandoah Valley

 

There was a time when the “great American frontier” was right here in the Shenandoah Valley. At that time, the size of the North American continent may likely have simply been too big to deal with for most of the newly-arrived colonists. How could they ever wrap their minds around such a vast, unexplored expanse?

For many of these Europeans who wonderingly landed on eastern seaboard city wharves in New York or Philadelphia, it seemed that the farther out west you went, it just got tougher and tougher.  

For one thing, sooner or later you'd likely run into a wall of mountains. Roads were bad or non-existent. And a short time later, at least partially thanks to French efforts to turn Native American goodwill against the British, many of the longtime inhabitants out there were definitely not friendly to newcomers.

Colonists who followed the Great Wagon Road south from Pennsylvania – now historic U.S. Route 11 – were able to find a only a precious few passes into and through the imposing and seemingly unending Allegheny mountain range. The challenge would be to somehow get a wagon to the Ohio River and then hopefully be able to push farther westward from there.

One such passage through the Alleghenies exists in the Shenandoah Valley, beginning at Brocks Gap. There, the North Branch of the Shenandoah River flows out into the Valley from a circular vale ringed with rugged mountains, forming Virginia's boundary with West Virginia. Brocks Gap is located in Rockingham County, Va., northwest of the city of Harrisonburg, Va., and a few miles west of the town of Broadway.

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It’s Springtime in the Shenandoah Valley!
Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia

In April, the Valley shakes off the coldness of Winter for good.  The ridges green up, the days get even longer and warmer. Our regional parks swing into gear, offering hiking, fishing, cycling and sightseeing. History, music, fun. Outdoor festivals. Sparkling days, cool nights. April is simply a great time to be livin’ good in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia!

  Happening today

Historic house tours in Dayton, Va.

382 High St. Historic Cromer-Trumbo House c. 1840 on the grounds of the Heritage Museum. Tours on last Saturday of the month, April through Aug., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-879-2616.


Battle of Cedar Creek Battlefield Tour in Middletown, Va.

Meet at the National Park Service Visitor Contact Station, 7712 Main St. April 30, May 7, 14, 20, 28 and 30 at 2 p.m. Two-hour, guided car-caravan tour led by ranger vehicle: Chronological interpretation of the Battle of Cedar Creek. Stops at key landmarks. Presented by Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. For more information, call 540-869-3051 or visit nps.gov/cebe.


Comedy show at Performing Arts Center in Luray, Va.

1 East Main St. Giggles to Guffaws in Luray: Mark and the Coach. Retired teacher and coach share life experiences. Family friendly humor. Tickets available at locations in town and online: $15 for adults, $8 for ages under 18. Cash bar. For more information, visit performingartsluray.com.


Farmers Market in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Butlers Farm Market, 1793 Dry Run Rd. Open through November 10, Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fresh produce and fruit, homemade goods, jams and local and state wines and spirits. For more information, visit www.gowhereitgrows.com


Civil War History program at Hupps Hill Civil War Park in Strasburg, Va.

33229 Old Valley Pike. Company K, 8th Virginia Infantry reenactors camp. Civil War military life demonstrations. Free admission. For more information, call 540-465-5884.


Ghost tours in Staunton, Va.

Weekend Ghost Tours around Downtown Staunton. Weekends through October. For more information, call 540-448-2743 or visit www.ghostsofstaunton.com


House and Gardens Open at Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va.

901 Amherst St. 2016 Glen Burnie House and Gardens season runs through Oct. 30. The exhibition, SuzanneStryk: Notes on the State of Virginia, will be on view in the house throughout the season. For more information, call 540-662-1473, extension 240 or visit www.theMSV.org.


Garden week tour in Rockbridge County, Va.

Tour scenic farms and vineyards, including in Brownsburg, a national historic district. Complimentary refreshments at a 19th century general store. Other stops features homes built between 1790 and 1995. Scenic mountain vistas and landscaped  gardens. Home art galleries. Live music. Viticulture, wine making and local history programs. Advance Tickets: $25. Day of tour: $30. For more information, call 540-463-5035 or visit www.vagardenweek.org


Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

10 S. Market St. The Importance of Being Earnest. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com.


Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

10 S. Market St. The Life of King Henry the Fifth. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com.


Country music concert at Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Valley Health Winchester Medical Center festival tent, 1755 North Sector Court. Parmalee. With special guest: Mechanicsville, Maryland native, Sam Grow. Adult beverages available with ID. Food available. The doors open at 7 p.m., concert at 8 p.m. No outside food and drink, or large purses and bags. Tickets: $25. For more information, visit TheBloom.com.


Spring Homeschool Day at Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Va.

1290 Richmond Ave. Variety of exhibits with historical interpreters, hands-on learning opportunities and interactive education: Cooking, gardening, woodworking, flax and wool spinning, rare-breed animals, schoolhouse lessons and more. Rain-or-shine event, dress for the weather. You can bring a picnic lunch. Advance Tickets: $5 Adults, $3 for children, ages 5 and under admitted free. At-the-door Tickets: $7 for aults, $5 for children, ages 5 and under admitted free. Free admission for annual pass-holders. For more information, call 540-332-7850 or visit www.frontiermuseum.org


Graveyard commemoration and dedication in Quicksburg, Va.

Corhaven, 2883 Quicksburg Road. Slave cemetery has been tended by members of the community. Program includes Shenandoah County Library archivist, Zach Hottel, Stonewall Jackson High School History Club members, representatives from Coming To The Table, Rev. Bill Haley, Rev. Mark Bowyer, and others. Memorial service. Free and open to the public. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. For more information, visit www.corhavengraveyard.org


Riverfest festival in Waynesboro, Va.

Constitution Park South. Year of the Osprey theme for 2016. Reptile World shows, Stream Safari, Wildlife Center of Virginia presentations, Fish and Fun Rodeo, Farmers Market, canoe rides, youth arts and crafts, fishing, South River Duck Race.
Rain or Shine. No Pets Allowed. For more informatioin, visit riverfestwaynesboro.com


Running marathon event in Stuarts Draft, Va.

Stuarts Draft Park. Park to Park 1/2 Marathon. 13.1 mile point to point course runs from Stuarts Draft Park to Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro. Fully-stocked aid stations along route, post-race party at the finish line. Bus transportation to starting line from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.


Flower show in Luray, Va.

Warehouse Art Gallery. Flower Show and 60th Anniversary celebration. Sponsored by Hill and Valley Garden Club Refreshments.


Shenandoah Valley Tapestry Exhibit in Winchester, Va.

Virginia National Bank, 186 N. Loudoun St. Runs until April 30. Needlework narrative honoring and celebrating over 250 years of history of the northern Shenandoah Valley. For more information, call 703-608-3924.


Arbor Day Celebration in New Market, Va.
New Market Library. Festival set to allow town to be designated Tree City. Tree-related books available for adults and kids, tree cookies. Forestry Department proclaimation. Snacks, giveaways and more. For more information, call 540-740-3432 or visit newmarketvirginia.com.
Vehicle Show fundraiser in Luray, Va.

Luray VFW 218, Veterans Lane. Modified trucks and tractors. All makes and models of cars, trucks and bikes. Chinese auction cake wheel. 50-50 drawing: $6 per ticket or $20 for 4 tickets. Drawings at 3 p.m. Food and drinks available. Live local bluegrass music, open jam session. Donation Required. For more information, call 540-244-9864, 540-778-1387 or 540-742-4031.


Quilt exhibition at Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, Va.

301 South Main St. Commemorative exhibit featuring quilt collection of local community art community figure, Mary Spitzer Etter. Complimentary breakfast available. Part of a multi-event commoration of the life of Mary Spitzer Etter. Rain or shine. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit spitzerartcenter.org


Art festival and exhibition in Harrisonburg, Va.

Spitzer Art Center, 486 West Market St. Victorian house and grounds, former home of Mary Spitzer Etter. Over 20 artist and craft vendors, live artist demos, specialty coffee beverages, and live front porch music from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. House tours every hour include two galleries, classroom/meeting room and artist studios where 12 local artists work. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit spitzerartcenter.org.


Art exhibition in Dayton, Va.

Cromer-Trumbo House, 382 High St. Hosted by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society. Mary Spitzer Etter collection Victorian furnishings, toys and decorative arts. Part of a multi-event commoration of the life of Mary Spitzer Etter. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit spitzerartcenter.org


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The Armory at Harpers Ferry

John Brown and his followers seized the Armory in 1860, and he eventually met his death as a result. His actions are also said to have contributed to the start of the American Civil War.

About Hank Zimmerman

Hank Zimmerman owns and operates Shenandoah Valley Productions LLC, publisher of ShenandoahValley.com.

...photo by Hank Zimmerman