National Geographic : 1949 Jul
Appalachian Valley Pilgrimage Clarke and Frederick Counties mark the beginning of Virginia in the Valley. The former, smallest of the 13 counties, yields apples and thoroughbred horses. This is the land to which English settlers came from Tide water Virginia. Thomas Lord Fairfax, Eng lish nobleman, settled at Greenway Court and gave young George Washington the job of surveying the more than 5,000,000-acre proprietary of the Northern Neck of Virginia.* Tradition says that a disappointment in love made Fairfax a misogynist and that no woman was allowed on his estate. Through a grant by Lord Fairfax, Matthew Page inherited land in Clarke County on which he built Annfield (page 9). Present owners now use the original spelling, although for many years the estate was known as Anne field. The Custis family Bible says Mrs. Robert E. Lee was born here. From Clarke County's seat, Berryville, to Winchester, seat of Frederick County, the winding road passes through the vast apple orchards of United States Senator Harry Flood Byrd (page 25). From wind-swept summits of the Appa lachians the Valley is a patchwork quilt of green, brown, and golden fields through which the Shenandoah weaves a curving silver thread. It's like looking through the large end of a telescope and seeing far below tiny towns with dollhouses. But these "tiny" towns, Winches ter, Staunton, and Waynesboro, are industrial cities, each with populations of more than 10,000 persons. Winchester, Old in Years, Modern in Ways Oldest Virginia city west of the Blue Ridge, Winchester was founded in 1744 by Col. James Wood. In 1752 it was named for his birth place, Winchester, England. In its older sec tion houses built flush with shaded streets hide their gardens in the rear; newer homes proudly display their flower beds in front. Largest industrial plant in Winchester is the O'Sullivan Rubber Corporation, origina tors of rubber heels for shoes. This plant turns out 150,000 pairs of rubber heels and soles a day (page 29). Symbol of Winchester is the apple. I vis ited one of the town's big cold-storage apple plants and saw room after room filled with apples, in crates and bushel baskets. One room was so chock-full of loose apples that walls had disappeared from view and only a portion of the ceiling was visible. Of the average 2,500,000 bushels of apples from Frederick County's 700,000 trees, this one plant can hold a million and a half. From all parts of the country thousands come each year to see the Apple Blossom Festival, held on the campus of privately en dowed Handley Public High School. Wandering along Winchester's streets, whose names reveal the nationality of her founders, visitors linger to see historic shrines. Within one block on Peyton Street are the site of Fort Loudoun, built by George Washington for defense against French and Indians, and the house where Stonewall Jackson had his headquarters during Civil War days. On Amherst Street is the house where Daniel Morgan, Revolutionary hero of Saratoga and Cowpens, died. From the present Elks Club building on Piccadilly Street Philip Sheridan began his famous ride to Cedar Creek. During the Civil War the Shenandoah Val ley was called the "granary of the Confeder acy." Winchester, northern gateway to the Confederacy, changed hands more than 70 times. Both Federal and Confederate troops marched up and down the Valley Pike so many times that it was known as "the soldiers' racecourse." Between Front Royal and Strasburg looms rugged Massanutten Mountain, the range which cuts the Valley in two for about 50 miles. Here the Shenandoah divides into two branches, the North Fork draining the wider western valley, the South Fork meandering through the narrow eastern valley. Explorer John Lederer, reputed to have been the first white man to see Shenandoah Valley, may have come through a gap near Front Royal in 1670. Looking down at the curling white smoke rising from Front Royal's factories, I wondered what he would think if he could see it now. Front Royal, seat of Warren County, is the northern gateway to Shenandoah National Park. Today the town is dominated by a large viscose rayon plant, which employs 3,000 people. When I first visited the sleepy rural village in 1940, it was beginning to recover from the sudden influx of tourists streaming southward to the park. Homes had hung out neon signs to attract them; restaurants, gas stations, and "ye olde gifte shoppes" had mushroomed up and down the main street. Shenandoah National Park, extending 65 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge from Front Royal to the vicinity of Waynesboro, Virginia, has about 194,000 acres. Altitudes vary from 600 feet above sea level at the northern entrance to 4,049 at the summit of Hawksbill Mountain. * See "The Travels of George Washington," by William Joseph Showalter, NATIONAL GEOGRAPIIIC MAGAZINE, January, 1932.