The Road to Winchester

Winchester Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 107 › view all entries
Duncan Park and Wilkins Lake

Monday, 12 November. The Verteran's Day holiday in the USA. Much needed rain had come in overnight, thogh the temperature had warmed a bit. (We'd had our first frost of the season on Sunday morning.) Still, a time to be out on the road. We headed for Winchester, in the Shenandoah Valley, about 10:15. As far as Gainesville, the route was the same as the one that took us to Charlottesille in September. But, now we continued out on Interstate 66 (not the same road as the old US Highway 66 in the West) towards the Blue Ridge. I-66 goes through the Manassas Gap, paralleling a railway line much of the way to Front Royal, VA.

Wilkins Lake and Abram's Delight Museum
Fall colors, delayed by the dry weather, were begining to come out, with oranges and yellows predominating. Not enough moisture for the birght reds. Ruins of 18th century Chapman's Mill, undergoing restoration, are visible from the highway near the village of Thoroughfare. At Marshall, about 30 miles (50 km) from Front Royal and the end of I-66 at I-81, the sun came out. It looked like it would be a beautiful day!

Past Front Royal, I-66 ends at Interstate 81. The roadway splits here, with I-81 leading the traveler either south to Harrisonburg, Roanoke, and on to Tenessee or north, to Winchester, Harrisburg, PA, and eventually to New York State and the Canadian border.

A PineApple welcomes visitors to Winchester, VA, the Apple Capital
We've been up and down I-81 in both directions. But, today's drive would take us another 23 miles (40 km) to Winchester. Arriving about 11:45 a.m., we met our son for lunch at Olive Garden.

Winchester was settled in 1732, the first town over the Blue Ridge. The city has has always been a market town. (Even today, license plates from West Virginia seen at shopping centers and "big box" stores in Winchester attest to its enduring role as a go-to-market destination for the entire northern Shenandoah Valley region.)  Six battles took place in Winchester during the Civil War as Union and Confederate armies sought control of the strategic agrcultural and natural resources of the Shenandoah Valley. In the 20th century, Winchester was the hometown of country music star Patsy Cline.

Shenandoah University
(A Patsy Cline museum is in development, but not yet open.)

Winchester has many sights for the visitor to see. A large welcoming "PineApple" greets visitors in many languages at the Visitor Center. (The Visitor Center is set in an old gristmill.) The PineApple is a conceit combining two traditions. A pineapple was a sign of hospitality in colonial times. Winchester is known as the "Apple Capital" from its apple growing and procesing industries. Several large apple sculptures are found around town. Abrams' Delight, begun in 1754 and expanded over time is Winchester's oldest house and once the miller's home. The house is on the Vistor Center grounds and open for tours.  An early pioneer log cabin, more typical of an early settler's dwelling, is also nearby.

Washington's Office

Near the Visitor Center and across a park is the main campus of  Shenandoah University. SU is especially known for the music, theatre, and dance programs at its Shenadoah Conservatory. Each summer the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre presents an excellent program of musicals at the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre on campus.

Winchester is a place that can truely say "George Washington Slept Here". He resided in Winchester when he was a young officer in the Virginia Regiment. Washington's Office Museum is located downtown. The center room of the structure was once a separate log cabin used by George Washington as his office between September, 1755 and December, 1756 while he supervised the construction of Ft. Loudon. He had earlier worked in the Winchester area as a surveyor and returned in 1758 during the French and Indian War.

Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters
The log cabin itself had been built it in 1748 as a judicial office for circuit riders in the Virginia backcountry. It's now a museum with exhibits documenting Washington's early career on the Virignia frontier.

In an older residential area of town is Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters Museum. Stonewall Jackson, the famous Confederate Civil War general, lived in this house from November 1861 to March 1862 while conducting his Shenandoah Valley campaign. The house is a gothic revival style cottage built in 1854 and named Alta Vista, a reference to its hillside view over Winchester. The house is now a museum with exhibits on Winchester during the Civil War.

Mt. Hebron Cemetery to the east of downtown traces its origins to 18th century Lutheran and Reformed burial grounds.

Winchester National Cemetery
One of the sections at Mt. Hebron is known as the the Stonewall Cemetery, established as cemetery for Confederate soldiers killed in the many Civil War battles around Winchester. The Patton Brothers gravesite located here has an interesting historical context. The Pattons were both Confederate officers. George S. Patton was killied in 1864 at the Third Battle of Winchester and his brother, W.T. Patton, at Gettysburg. You may recognize the name--the George S. Patton buried here was the grandfather of George S. Patton, jr, the famous World War II general.  

Directly across a narrow street from Stonewall Cemetery is Winchester National Cemetery, orignally established as the official cemetery for Union Civil War casualites. It's interesting to observe, especially on Vereran's Day, the close proximity of the Union and Confederate cemeteries.

world-traveller123 says:
Good photos.
Posted on: Nov 01, 2009
reikunboy says:
great pics. Wilkins lake looks so beautiful
Posted on: Dec 18, 2007
tvillingmarit says:
So many beautiful photos
Posted on: Dec 18, 2007
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Duncan Park and Wilkins Lake
Duncan Park and Wilkins Lake
Wilkins Lake and Abrams Delight M…
Wilkins Lake and Abram's Delight …
A PineApple welcomes visitors to W…
A PineApple welcomes visitors to …
Shenandoah University
Shenandoah University
Washingtons Office
Washington's Office
Stonewall Jacksons Headquarters
Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters
Winchester National Cemetery
Winchester National Cemetery
Massachusetts Monument, Winchester…
Massachusetts Monument, Wincheste…
Fall colors begin to emerge at Wil…
Fall colors begin to emerge at Wi…
Abrams Delight
Abram's Delight
Pioneer log cabin dating from ca. …
Pioneer log cabin dating from ca.…
Shenandoah University
Shenandoah University
Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre
Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre
Mt. Hebron Cemetery gate
Mt. Hebron Cemetery gate
Stonewall Cemetery is a part of Mt…
Stonewall Cemetery is a part of M…
Patton Brothers gravestone
Patton Brothers gravestone
Winchester City Hall
Winchester City Hall
Stars amd Stripes Apple
Stars amd Stripes Apple
Winchester Sights & Attractions review
George Washington's Office Museum
George Washington used the log cabin that now forms the center room of this structure as his headquarters from September 1755 to December of 1756. He … read entire review
Winchester
photo by: Andy99