We spent the night in Waynesboro, VA last night, staying at the Best Western. Waynesboro is the northern terminus for the Blue Ridge Parkway and the southern terminus for Skyline Drive. We drove the entire 105 miles of the Skyline today. The speed limit is only 35 MPH, but we were in no hurry today, so the speed was appropriate. In the scheme of things I actually preferred driving the Skyline over the Blue Ridge since it seems to be less curvy and more conducive to sightseeing. The drive was much clearer than yesterdays foggy ride on the BRP.
We saw more wild life along the Skyline than the BRP, which is surprising, since the BRP is 5X as long. We did see a small black bear running down the road, but MeAsWe couldn’t get the camera fired up in time to catch a picture before it ran off on the side of the road. I visually marked where it ran into the woods and as we passed that spot, there he/she was sitting watching the traffic go by. MeAsWe missed this camopp too. Here's one we caught.
Big Meadows is about the ½ way point on the Skyline and is a contributing property on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also where the Harry F Byrd Visitor Center is located.
We passed thru Front Royal, the northern terminus of the Skyline. Grabbed this building which appears to have been a hardware store advertising Bromo Seltzer. This is the tallest building in the immediate area and a great billboard canvas. The name, Bromo Seltzer came from the sodium bromide that was one of the ingredients. Bromides are a class of tranquilizers taken off the market in 1975 due to the toxicity. This ingredient made it popular for hangovers.
Moving north we stopped at Cedar Creek Battlefield and Belle Grove Plantation, both are NHL’s. The battle was fought in 1864 and was a surprise attack by the Confederates against Sheridan’s forces, of scorched earth fame. The Union troops were initially caught off guard, but rallied and counterattacked the Confederate forces. This battle marked the Union stranglehold over the Shenandoah Valley and protected Washington DC western front. Belle Grove Plantation was built in the late 1700’s and home of Major Issac Hite, Jr, a Revolutionary War veteran and brother in law to James Madison the President.
Winchester, VA is a stones throw from Cedar Creek. Targeted stop was Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters. The home was owned by Lt Colonel Moore and offered the home to serve as the Jackson’s HQ. The home was purchased and converted to a museum in 1960. Mary Tyler Moore, you remember her, Laura on Dick Van Dyke Show, contributed funds to restore the property. She was a relative to Lt Col Moore.
Right around the corner from the Jackson HQ was this neat cottage style gas station. I did some research to try to figure out what was the gas company. One would immediately think Pure One or Phillips 66, but both of these company stations had chimneys on either end or next to the entrance. What I did find out this station is up for sale, has lost its grandfathering as a commercial site and must conform to the residential restrictions for the neighborhood. Nope can’t even be a convenience store.
We headed downtown and passed Handley Library. This is a great example, especially in the US, of Beaux Arts architectural style building. Built in 1913, it was a gift to the city of Winchester by Judge Handley. It is listed on the NRHP.
We did hit Harper’s Ferry which is right on the border of WV and MD. This is a place one needs to spend some time at and take the bus from the NP visitor center to the town. Parking is extremely limited and difficult. Of course I grabbed some INK (National Park cancellation stamp) to add to my collection and a pin.
When I planned the places we were going to visit the Martinsburg Train Yard, more formerly known as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Martinsburg Shops, brought some excitement to my brain. I just have a thing about old train sites and depot. It is the vision of steam engines crossing the countryside and pulling up to a depot. This place turned out very kewl from a visual standpoint but has far more significance from a historical perspective. This is the site for the Great Strike of 1877 where the first match was struck for laborers and factory workers. The strike at Martinsburg was the beginning of a nationwide uprising by workers and laborers across industry lines who had their wages cut after the Panic of 1873 by the Rockefeller's, Morgan's and Carnegie's. It was so broad and encompassing that some historians consider it to be akin to a class revolution in the US.
A little to the east of Martinsburg crossing back into Maryland is Antietam Battlefield. Arriving late in the day, I stopped in the VC to get my ink and pin and then we headed out for a drive around the park. This was the first major battle during the Civil War fought on Union soil and was the most bloody single-day battle in American history, with 22,717 dead, wounded or missing people. We spent about an hour driving around the area.
We had one last stop Cacoctin Mountain Park. Having left Antietam after 5pm, I figured the place would be closed, but to our surprise the VC was still open. With the sequester I figured there is no way it was going to be open. Camp David, the presidential retreat is located in the park, and of course, is off limits for us citizens.
On our way into Harrisburg, PA we stopped at a McDonalds, charged up the Acer notebook and made our last minute hotel reservations on Priceline. Another Best Western stay.