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

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

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: Aug. 30 at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 3-5, Sept. 11, 16, 18, 26 and 30 at 11:30 a.m.

Museum Exhibit at Washington and Lee University

Lee Chapel and Musuem, Lee in the Field. Runs through Aug. 31. Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 1-5 p.m. Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for children. For more information, call 540-458-8768 or visit

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

Art exhibit at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. The Clermont Collection: Portraits of Farm Animals by local artist Doug Pifer. Aug. 7 - Sept. 19, open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and by appointment. Free admission. For more information, call 540-955-2004.

The Miller-Kite House Museum open for season in Elkton, Va.

310 E. Rockingham St. Gen. Stonewall Jackson Headquarters in 1862. Sundays only, from 1 to 5 p.m. through Labor Day weekend. Air conditioned, Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-578-3046 or visit

Faculty Recital at Bridgewater College

Cole Hall. Dr. Larry Taylor, associate professor of music: kinetic energy organ recital. Free admission, open to the public.

Civil War history exhibition in Lexington, Va.

Brownsburg Museum, 2716 Brownsburg Turnpike. Civil War Brownsburg: A Community`s Civil War Story. Sat 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sun 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission. For more information, call 540-348-1600 or visit

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Belle Grove Plantation

Belle Grove Plantation is a 1797 manor house at the Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park in Middletown, Virginia. Now a National Historic Landmark, Virginia Historic Landmark, and a National Trust for Historic Preservation historic property.

About Hank Zimmerman

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