Shenandoah Valley


Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley region of western Virginia and West Virginia is bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Appalachian and Allegheny Plateaus to the west. It is located within the Ridge and Valley region and is a portion of the Great Appalachian Valley.

Geography

Named for the river which stretches much of its length, the Shenandoah Valley encompasses seven counties in Virginia (Frederick County, Clarke County, Warren County, Shenandoah County, Page County, Rockingham County, and Augusta County) as well as two counties in West Virginia (Berkeley County and Jefferson County). Between Roanoke in the south and Harpers Ferry in the north, where the Shenandoah River joins the Potomac, the Valley contains municipalities of various sizes like Staunton, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Lexington, Waynesboro, and Front Royal. The northern section of the Shenandoah Valley is split in half by the Massanutten Mountain range.

Notable caves

The Valley contains a number of geologically and historically significant limestone caves:
*Crystal Caverns
*Skyline Caverns
*Luray Caverns, "designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974"
*Shenandoah Caverns
*Endless Caverns
*Massanutten Caverns
*Grand Caverns, "designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973"
*Madison's Cave, "visited by George Washington; mapped and published by Thomas Jefferson"
*Dixie Caverns

History

The word "Shenandoah" was derived from a Native American expression for "Beautiful Daughter of the Stars." The Valley Pike (or Valley Turnpike) began as a migratory trail for tribes such as the Delaware and Catawba, who called it the Great Warriors Trail. Later colonists called it the Great Wagon Road, and it became the major thoroughfare for immigrants moving by wagons from Pennsylvania and northern Virginia into the backcountry of the South.

The road was refined and paved for motor vehicles. In the 20th century, the Valley Turnpike was a toll road. Then it was acquired by the Commonwealth of Virginia which incorporated it into the state highway system as U.S. Highway 11. For much of its length, the newer Interstate 81 parallels the old Valley Pike.

The Shenandoah Valley is a productive agricultural region. Despite the great promise of the rich farmland of the Valley, colonial settlement from the east was mostly barred by the barrier of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They had been crossed by Governor Alexander Spotswood's legendary Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition at Swift Run Gap in 1716, but settlers did not follow.

Instead, the Valley was first settled by German and then by Scots-Irish immigrants from Pennsylvania in the 1730s. The former were known as "Shenandoah Deitsch." Both stocks came south into the Valley from the Potomac River. The Scots-Irish comprised the largest group of immigrants from the British Isles before the Revolutionary War, and most migrated into the backcountry of the South. [David Hackett Fischer, "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America", New York: Oxford University Press, 1989,, pp.605-608] This was in contrast to the chiefly English immigrants who had settled the Virginia Tidewater and eastern Piedmont regions.

The Shenandoah Valley was known as the breadbasket of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. It was the site of battles between Union and Confederate forces.

In the late 20th century, the valley's vineyards began to reach maturity. They constituted the new industry of the Shenandoah Valley American Viticultural Area.

Transportation

* [http://www.ci.front-royal.va.us/frat.asp?M=2&P=10&S=0 Front Royal Area Transit] (FRAT) provides weekday transit for the town of Front Royal.
* [http://www.vatransit.org/info_page.htm Page County Transit] The People Movers provides weekday transit for the town of Luray and weekday service between Luray and Front Royal.
* [http://www.winchesterva.gov/transit/ Winchester Transit] provides weekday transit for the city of Winchester.
* [http://www.shenvalleycommuters.com/ Shenandoah Valley Commuter Bus Service] offers weekday commuter bus service from Northern Shenandoah Valley including Shenandoah County and Warren County to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. including Arlington County and Fairfax County. Origination points in Shenandoah County include Woodstock. Origination points in Warren County include Front Royal and Linden.
*Interstate 81 is a major route that cuts through the Shenandoah Valley from its northern terminus at the Virginia/West Virginia border through Winchester through Harrisonburg and on south.

ee also

* 2003 Virginia earthquake
* Bridgewater College
* Buena Vista, Virginia
* Christendom College
* Eastern Mennonite University
* Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
* Harrisonburg, Virginia
* James Madison University
* Lexington, Virginia
* Mary Baldwin College
* Natural Bridge (Virginia)
* Shenandoah University
* Southern Virginia University
* Valley Baseball League
* Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign
* Valley Campaigns of 1864
* Virginia Military Institute
* Washington and Lee University

References

External links

* [http://www.virginia.org/site/features.asp?FeatureID=4 Shenandoah Valley - Official State Tourism Website]
* [http://www.visitshenandoah.org/ Visit Shenandoah Website]
* [http://www.shenandoahvalleyweb.com Shenandoah Valley Web - General Information]
* [http://www.svtc-va.org/ Shenandoah Valley Technology Council]
* [http://www.shenandoahatwar.org/ Shenandoah At War, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation]
* [http://www.civilwartraveler.com/virginia/valley/ CivilWarTraveler.com - Virginia's Valley and Mountains]
* [http://www.valleyconservation.org Valley Conservation Council]


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