History at Sunset: Schedule for summer, fall season

newspaperCedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park announced a series of special History at Sunset programs.

These ranger-conducted presentations cover a variety of subjects and provide visitors an opportunity to see sites normally not open, or widely accessible, to the general public.

“The history of the Shenandoah Valley is rich and fascinating,” according to Chief Ranger Eric Campbell, “These programs offer an opportunity to learn some of its many stories in a more detailed fashion.”

Explore and learn about some of the “hidden gems” of the park and the Shenandoah Valley.

Each program is free and lasts between 90 minutes to two hours.


June 10, 7:00 p.m.

“I will guarantee that my line will stand” Ramseur’s Attack Against Hayes and Kitching

Join Ranger Jeff Driscoll as he explores the attack of Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur’s Division on the Union line held by Col. (and future President) Rutherford B. Hayes and Col. J. Howard Kitching’s troops.  This program will highlight the newly opened “Morning Attack Trails” in the park.  Meet at the Claytor Farm parking area (2262 Claven Lane, Middletown, VA).  The location will be marked by special NPS signs.


June 24, 6:30 p.m.

“War! Vermont Responds!” Vermont Historian Howard Coffin and

The Valiant Stand of Thomas’s Brigade

Preeminent Vermont historian Howard Coffin will kick-off the park’s “Vermont at Cedar Creek Weekend” with an overview of the Green Mountain State’s response to, and role in, the Civil War.  Ranger Jeff Driscoll will follow the opening program with a guided walk that explains the desperate stand of Col. Stephen Thomas’s Brigade during the early morning hours of the Battle of Cedar Creek.  Meet at the 8th Vermont Monument.  Parking available at either theClaytor Farm parking area (2262 Claven Lane, Middletown, VA.  The location will be marked by special NPS signs) or the 8th Vermont Monument trailhead (8739 Valley Pike, Middletown, VA).


July 10, 7:00 p.m.

A Diamond in the Rough:  The Forgotten Story of the Bowman-Hite Farmstead 

Join Ranger Kyle Rothemich as he explores the history of the Bowman-Hite Farmstead. This farmstead stands as a unique example of a 19th century Shenandoah Valley agricultural landscape. Learn about the families who called this place home, structures that shaped their experiences and soldiers who marched by during the Battle of Cedar Creek.  This will be the first time in the park’s history that visitors can access this property on a ranger led program. Meet at 621 Bowman’s Mill Road (Warren County) Middletown, VA 22645. NPS signs will mark the site.


July 29, 7:00 p.m.

An Ever-Restless Landscape:

Change, Continuity, and the Creation of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

For thousands of years people have changed the landscape that became Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. Native Americans burned fields to grow crops, early settlers built mills, and roads were built to connect town and country. Over time various groups preserved certain aspects of the landscape, eventually leading to the creation a National Park. Join Ranger Kyle Rothemich as he asks visitors to experience the landscape of the park to learn about: past cultures, community values, technological change, and historic preservation.  Meet at the National Park Service Visitor Contact Station (7712 Main St. Middletown, VA). This program consists of both a car caravan tour, plus moderate walking.


August 19, 7:00 p.m.

“Attention – Company!”  Civil War Soldier for an Evening

Have you ever attended a Civil War “living history” event or re-enactment and wondered about all those strange movements, battle formations and commands?  Or the details of the various steps in loading and firing a rifled-musket?  Join Ranger Jeff Driscoll for a hands-on interactive experience on the basics of Civil War drill.  For adults and kids alike!  Meet at Belle Grove Plantation Manor House (336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown, VA).


September 9, 6:00 p.m.

“Our once beautiful but now desolated Valley”  Post-War Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

The aftermath of the Civil War brought many challenges to the residents of the Shenandoah Valley.  In the fall of 1864, the war-torn region had been destroyed by Union General Phil Sheridan’s “Burning,” and in the post-war period, the Valley’s residents not only had to deal with the economic recovery of their formerly-named “Breadbasket,” but also the political changes facing the nation.  Park Ranger Shannon Moeck will discuss how all the Valley’s civilians, including former slaves and Confederate veterans, adjusted and adapted to their new environment, then, while remembering their past, went about rebuilding their lives during this uncertain time.  Meet at Belle Grove Plantation Manor House (336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown, VA)


September  23, 5:00 p.m.

“…a perfect slaughterhouse”  The Battle of Third Winchester Tour

Join Ranger Eric Campbell has he leads a car caravan tour (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle) that will cover the battle chronologically.  Meet at the Third Winchester Visitor Center (541 Redbud Road, Winchester, VA).  The tour will consist of both moderate walking and a car-caravan tour to various sites across the battlefield.


September 30, 5:00 p.m.

The Long Gray Trail:  History of the Valley Turnpike

One of the most critical features in the settlement and economic growth of the Shenandoah Valley was the existence and improvement of the principal road that ran along its length.  Known successively as the Great Warrior Path, the Great Wagon Road, and the Valley Pike, this thoroughfare played a critical role throughout the entire history of the Valley, and of numerous campaigns during the four years of the Civil War.  Join Park Ranger Shannon Moeck as she explains the evolution of this road and its impact on history.  Meet at the Belle Grove Plantation Manor House (336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown, VA).  This program will visit several locations around the park, and thus will involve a car caravan system (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle).


October 14, 4:00 p.m.

The Battle of Cedar Creek Tour

Join Park Ranger Shannon Moeck for a special three hour in-depth tour of the battle.  This car-caravan tour (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle), will cover the Battle of Cedar Creek in a chronological fashion, and includes many stops and locations not normally open to the public.  Meet at the National Park Service Visitor Contact Station (7712 Main Street, Middletown, VA).

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