National Park Service announces Shenandoah Valley history events

newspaper-headerCedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park and its partners will offer a series of special National Park Service ranger programs and other events this July to highlight various stories related to the history of the Shenandoah Valley.

“These programs will give visitors a chance to explore important events of the Valley,” said Eric Campbell, the park’s chief of interpretation. “We will cover a variety of subjects, including critical moments of the Battle of Cedar Creek, the constantly changing landscape of the park throughout history, a study of the Bowman-Hite farmstead, anniversary reenactments and also a special exhibit on Virginia and the American Slave Trade.”

These special presentations include both the popular “History at Sunset” programs and also the new “Battlefield Series” programs.  All of these programs are free and last between 90 minutes to two hours.

* July 9Battlefield Series: “Battling in the Streets” Middletown and the Battle of Cedar Creek (2:00 pm)Middletown constantly found itself in the middle of war.  At no time was this truer than on October 19, 1864 during the Battle of Cedar Creek when fighting raged through the town’s streets both during the morning Confederate assault and the afternoon Union counterattack.  Join Ranger Jeff Driscoll as he explores this critical, but often overlooked action.  Meet at the Visitor Contact Station (7712 Main Street, Middletown).

* July 15 —History at Sunset: A Diamond in the Rough: The Forgotten Story of the Bowman-Hite Farmstead

Join Ranger Kyle Rothemich as he explores the history of the Bowman-Hite Farmstead. This farmstead stands as a unique example of a 19th century Shenandoah Valley agricultural landscape. Learn about the families who called this place home, structures that shaped their experiences and soldiers who marched by during the Battle of Cedar Creek.  This will be the first time in the park’s history that visitors can access this property on a ranger led program. Meet at 621 Bowman’s Mill Road (Warren County) Middletown, VA 22645. NPS signs will mark the site.

* July 22-24 —155th Anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas Reenactment Reenactments, sutler’s row, symposium tent and more. Sponsored by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation.  Fee.  For more information or tickets see ( or call (540) 869-2064.

* July 26 — “To Be Sold” Virginia and the American Slave Trade: A special exhibit from the Library of Virginia will open at Belle Grove.  The exhibit examines the impact of the domestic slave trade on African American families. Exhibition runs through September 25th.  For more information call (540) 869-2028.

* July 29 —History at Sunset: An Every-Restless Landscape: Change, Continuity and the Creation of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park (7:00 pm) For thousands of years people have changed the landscape that became Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. Native Americans burned fields to grow crops, early settlers built mills, and roads were built to connect town and country. Over time various groups preserved certain aspects of the landscape, eventually leading to the creation a National Park. Join Ranger Kyle Rothemich as he asks visitors to experience the landscape of the park to learn about: past cultures, community values, technological change, and historic preservation.  Meet at the National Park Service Visitor Contact Station (7712 Main St. Middletown, VA). This program consists of both a car caravan tour, plus moderate walking.

* July 30— Battlefield Series: “An Appalling Spectacle of Panic” The Collapse of the Army of the Shenandoah(2:00 pm) The amazingly successful Confederate surprise attack on the morning of October 19, 1864 at Cedar Creek caused the near total collapse of the Union Army of the Shenandoah.  Park Volunteer Guy Young will examine this attack through the perspective of the three Union corps who bore the brunt of the Southern assault.  Meet at the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters (8437 Valley Pike, Middletown).  Visitors will then car caravan to various locations on the battlefield.

For details and updates, call (540) 869-3051 or see: