National Park Service announces Shenandoah Valley history programs

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 September 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 numerous subjects and offer a wide variety of events, including a series of programs on critical moments of the Battle of Cedar Creek, a tour of the Battle of Third Winchester, a presentation the impact of the Civil War on the local citizens, living history and a special exhibit on the slave trade in Virginia.”

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 26 —September 25:  “To Be Sold” Virginia and the American Slave Trade: A special exhibit from the Library of Virginia examines the impact of the slave trade on African Americans.  For more information call (540) 869-2028.

* September 9 —History at Sunset: Our once beautiful but now desolated Valley”  Post-War Shenandoah Valley, Virginia  (6:00 pm) The aftermath of the Civil War brought many challenges to the residents of the Shenandoah Valley.  In the fall of 1864, the war-torn region had been destroyed by Union General Phil Sheridan’s “Burning,” and in the post-war period, the Valley’s residents not only had to deal with the economic recovery, but also the political changes facing the nation.  Park Ranger Shannon Moeck will discuss how Valley civilians, including former slaves and Confederate veterans, adjusted and adapted to their new environment, and went about rebuilding their lives during this uncertain time.  Meet at Belle Grove Plantation Manor House (336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown, VA)

* September 10Battlefield Series: “A great deal of labor was…expended in building breastworks….” Exploring the Civil War Entrenchments at Cedar Creek  (2:00 pm) Some of the most well preserved original Civil War entrenchments in the Shenandoah Valley are located on the bluffs above Cedar Creek.  Join Park Ranger Jim Horn for a special walking tour that explores their construction and role during the Battle of Cedar Creek.  Preserved by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation and Belle Grove, these earthworks are the focal point of a newly expanded walking trail. Meet at the Visitor Contact Station (7712 Main Street, Middletown).  Visitors will then car-pool to another site.

* September 17Battlefield Series:  Capt. Henry DuPont and the Role of Artillery at the Battle of Cedar Creek(2:00 pm)  Join Park Volunteer Chuck Barker as he examines the role of Capt. Henry DuPont and his 8thCorps batteries during the Battle of Cedar Creek.  DuPont’s actions would later earn him the Medal of Honor.  This car caravan tour will explore areas not normally accessible to the public.  Meet at the Visitor Contact Station (7712 Main Street, Middletown).Visitors will then car caravan to various locations on the battlefield.

* September 23 —History at Sunset: “…a perfect slaughterhouse”  The Battle of Third Winchester Tour(5:00 pm)

Join Ranger Eric Campbell has he leads a car caravan tour (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle) that will cover the battle chronologically.  Meet at the Third Winchester Visitor Center (541 Redbud Road, Winchester, VA).  The tour will consist of both moderate walking and a car-caravan tour to various sites across the battlefield.

* September 24—Smithsonian Museum Day Live!  (10:00 – 4:00) Come to Belle Grove for Smithsonian Magazine’sMuseum Day Live! Belle Grove is partnering with the Smithsonian and thousands of other museums by offering Free Admission. For more information call (540) 869-2028 or see:

* September 23-24—Living History Encampment  Members of the 55th Virginia will encampment and perform firing demonstrations.  Learn about the life of the common soldier.  Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters (8437 Valley Pike, Middletown).

* September 30 —History at Sunset:  The Long Gray Trail:  History of the Valley Turnpike (5:00 pm) One of the most critical features in the settlement and economic growth of the Shenandoah Valley was the existence and improvement of the principal road that ran along its length.  Known successively as the Great Warrior Path, the Great Wagon Road, and the Valley Pike, this thoroughfare played a critical role throughout the entire history of the Valley, and of numerous campaigns during the Civil War.  Join Park Ranger Shannon Moeck as she explains the evolution of this road and its impact on history.  Meet at the Belle Grove Plantation Manor House (336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown, VA).  This program will visit several locations around the park, and thus will involve a car caravan system (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle).

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

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park offers a wide variety of ranger-conducted programs, which tell the park’s many stories related to the rich cultural history of the Shenandoah Valley and the American Civil War.  These programs are offered regularly. Check the park website ( or call (540) 869-3051for a current schedule.