By Leva levitra
Monday May 20, 2013 | May 2013 Issue
I have decided to rename this monthly feature…”Road Trip” instead of Day trip. The reason is simple…most of the places I visit need more than one day to really appreciate them, therefore it becomes incumbent to stay the night. Winchester, Virginia is no exception to this rule. Only 75 miles from Alexandria, Winchester has much to offer in history, entertainment, museums and just plain old fun.
Getting to Winchester is pretty easy. Take Interstate 66 to Route 50 west and keep going until you come to Winchester. Once you get past Chantilly and Route 50 narrows to a single lane, the traffic lights will disappear until you get to Middleburg. The stores and auto dealers fade into green pastures where horses are beginning to chomp at the emerging spring grasses. After Middleburg you will pass through the villages of Upperville and Paris. At any of these towns there are wonderful places to grab a bite to eat if you get hungry.
After crossing over Interstate 81 you will enter the business district of Winchester. If you make a right on Pleasant Valley Road you will find the Visitors Center a half-mile down the road on the right. This is a good place to start because there is so much to see and do in this city and the Visitors Center can point you in the right direction. My attempt is to wet your appetite.
Winchester is in Frederick County. The county was established in 1738 and included much of West Virginia (although at that time it was known as Virginia). In 1745, more than 4,000 people lived in old Frederick County and in what today are Clarke, Shenandoah, Warren, and Page Counties in Virginia, and Berkeley, Hampshire, Hardy, and Jefferson Counties in West Virginia. From a strategic standpoint, Winchester was of great importance to both the North and the south. When occupied by the Confederates, there existed a serious threat to the supply lines of the Union armies trying to reach Richmond. When occupied by the Union, raids and invasion became risky business for the rebels and opened a protected avenue for Union troop movements south through the Shenandoah Valley where they could attack Lee’s main forces. Indeed, one skirmish was this month in 1862 at the First Battle of Kernstown (see Civil War article in this issue). There will be a one-day battlefield tour to commemorate the battle on March 24th.
Cedar Creek Battlefield is located south of Winchester near Middletown. Our photographer friend, Chester Simpson, has been photographing the reenactments at Cedar Creek every October for a number of years now and he was the one who pointed out that it is the only reenactment from the Civil War that is held on an actual battlefield from the war. It was a pivotal battle that insured Northern control of the Shenandoah Valley and guaranteed the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.
There are numerous museums and historic sites in Winchester that I cannot possibly mention them all. Some of those included are the Stonewall Jackson Headquarters, Kernstown Battlefield, Stonewall Confederate Cemetery, Old Court House Civil War Museum, George Washington’s Office Museum, and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, which will be housing an exhibit: “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia – Surviving the War.”
Country recording star, Patsy Cline was born in Winchester on September 8, 1932. Not just one of my favorites, but Cline was considered to be one of the most influential, successful, and acclaimed female vocalists of the 20th century. Her recordings still sell today and in 2002; artists and members of the country music industry voted her as number one on CMT’s The 40 Greatest Women of Country Music. Winchester will hold the annual Patsy Cline Jamboree on March 24th…”Nothing Fancy, Just the Music.”
Winchester, also known as the “Apple Capitol” is surrounded by vast orchards and constituting one of the largest apple export markets of the nation and the largest producing area in Virginia. To celebrate this heritage, Winchester will mark the 85th anniversary of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which will be held next month beginning April 27 and the festivities will continue through May 7th. Over 250,000 people attend the events so make a reservation soon. More info at- thebloom.com.
Just like Old Town Alexandria, a vital marketplace for more than 250 years, Old Town Winchester cherishes its heritage. Both towns have been historically tied together over the past 250 years. Winchester would ship apples and other commerce to the waiting ships standing ready at the wharves in Alexandria. In fact, Middleburg derives its name by being halfway between the two cities. Old Town Winchester is located within the heart of a 45-block National Register Historic District and features a quaint pedestrian walking mall bursting with outdoor cafes, fun & specialty shops, historic attractions and family oriented activities throughout the year.
Not only are there great places to dine and stay in Winchester, if you are looking for a little outdoor activity the Shenandoah River is a short drive away and Veramar Vineyard is nearby as well. A short drive west of town you can find the Rocking S Ranch where you will be outfitted with a saddle horse that fits your needs and you will set out to enjoy an hour (well, actually a little longer) ride through a wooded area and across a creek, or you can opt for a four-hour ride into the mountains and back (see their ad in this issue).
Winchester has a lot of history, a lot of life, and a bunch of stuff to do. Like Alexandria, there is so much to do that I can’t explore it all here. I recommend that you go to the Visitors Center web site at visitwinchesterva.com for the rest of the story. By the way, this article and this publication works both ways…y’all come visit us!
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