The Road to Middletown

Middletown Travel Blog

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Belle Grove Plantation, Middleton, VA

The second Monday in October is Columbus Day in the United States, a national holiday. I was off from work, my wife was off, and school was out. Forecast was for a high of 90F (32C), potentially record-breaking. Now, this is the sort of day that cries out for a road trip, but our daughter had a program to attend at Shenandoah Universty in Winchester in any case. So, off we were on the road again, over the Blue Ridge.

Winchester, VA, is delightful small city in the Valley of Virginia. But, I'll defer telling you about it until a later blog. We dropped off our daughter for the all-day program and attended a parents briefing and brunch. By 11:00 a.m. we were on our own. 

Literature stated that Belle Grove Plantation in nearby Middleton was open through October.

Cedar Creek Battlefield
Here was  historic house and National Trust site we had not visited! We took off down I-81 covering the 12 miles in a few minutes. Exiting off I-81 to US Highway 11, we followed the signs and soon turned off on a side road for the house. It could be seen across a pasture with cows grazing out in front. We approached the entrance--only to be greeted by a "Closed Today" sign! "What's up with this?" said I. The brochure (and sign) clearly said open at 10:00 a.m. through October. Closed for Columbus Day, I guess, though another car of would-be visitors also stopped by while we were there. Well, this wasn't going to be all for naught, so I did take a photo of the house. The brochure states that while the Civil War Battle of Cedar Creek raged arond the house in 1864, it came through unscathed.
Rocky Valley and Ridge Terrain
The house does indeed appear to be in excellent condition today. In fact, it could easily be mistaken for one of the modern "McMansions" going up in the outer suburbs of Northern Virginia.

Returning to Route 11, the open expanse of Cedar Creek Battlefield could be seen from the roadside historical markers. The Battle of Cedar Creek took place in October 1864. The battle, a Confederate defeat, marked a turning point in the Valley Campaign. Throughout the Civil War, the Valley of Virignia with its abundant food supply was was hotly contested between Union and Confedeate forces. Cedar Creek signaled the end of Confederate control of the Shenandoah Valley. Middletown was preparing for a large reenactment scheduled for two weeks hence.

Heater House
Signs and flag were out along Main Street to welcome those wearing both Blue and Gray alike. 

The battlefield itself is still a large pasture, stretching from the highway to the distant Appalachian Mountains. Linear belts of rocks, characteristic of the Valley and Ridge geologic zone of Virginia, thrust up out of the ground to mark the field, almost as if they themselves were remnants of old fortifications. In the middle of the field stands a frame farmhouse known as the Heater House. One frequently reads about how the Civil War divided families between North and South. The Heater House is tangible evidence. The historical marker tells us that Mrs. Heater remained loyal to the Union and aided Union forces operating in the Valley. But, her sons fought for the Cofederacy and two died in the conflict. 

sylviandavid says:
nice blog. wouldn't that be sad to be on different sides than your children in a civil war? It would be neat to see the middletown reenactment... sylvia
Posted on: Oct 30, 2007
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Belle Grove Plantation, Middleton,…
Belle Grove Plantation, Middleton…
Cedar Creek Battlefield
Cedar Creek Battlefield
Rocky Valley and Ridge Terrain
Rocky Valley and Ridge Terrain
Heater House
Heater House
Rustic Café on Main Street
Rustic Café on Main Street
Middletown
photo by: Andy99