Trinity Lutheran Church (1906)
I've driven Interstate 81 between Front Royal and Winchester a number of times. It's a short segment, no more than 20 minutes, after the trip up from Fairfax County on I-66. No reason to stop. But, about midway, a tall church steeple has always caught my eye. It's near an an exit labled Stephens City. On Sunday, I finally decided to pull off and investigate.
Stephens City is a small Shenandoah Valley town. Exiting the Interstate, one is greeted by the usual assemblage of gas stations catering to the highway traveler. A bit beyond them is the town. It's an old town, I soon discovered. It was founded in the 1730s by German immigrants coming down the Valley from Pennsylvania looking for land to farm.
Trinity Lutheran Church
The town became known for its wagon builders and a type of covered freight wagon known as the Newton Wagon
was made there. I soon found the chruch who's steeple I'd seen from the highway. Appropriately, it was a Lutheran church. The cornerstone stated 1906. Not that
old, but an attractive brick structure nonetheless. Inscriptions indicated an earlier church dating from 1852 had been on the site. I took photos of Trinity Lutheran Church
and looked around. The place was very quiet, except for the busy Sheetz
gas station and travel mart down the street. There appeared to be several log cabin structures in town. Old, but hard to tell just how old. Must find out more about them. I took a photo of one, a home, that had been expanded out over the years. (I leanred it is knwon as the John Cryder House
Steeple at Trinity Lutheran
Cryder was a wagon maker in Stephens City in the early 19th century.) Near there was Trinity's cemetery. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I think it's interesting to see old cemeteries. They tell of the people who once lived in place and somethig of the lives they led. Gravestones dated back to the 1820s and others marked individuals born in 18th century. I could see the cemetery is still in use and flowers and red, white, and blue markers had been placed here and there. On Main Street (Valley Pike or US Highway 11) stands the Newton Museum
, originally the Newton Tavern, and other 18th and 19th cetnruy shops and houses.
There was definitely more history to learn. I had to press on to Springfield, but I'll be back for another look at Stephens City.