National Park Service announces summer ranger programs
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park is once again offering a full-slate of ranger-conducted programs throughout this summer. Programs will be offered on a daily basis beginning Saturday, June 14 and continue through August 16.
These programs tell the park’s many stories related to the rich cultural history of the Shenandoah Valley, its settlement, the Battle of Cedar Creek and the impact of the Civil War on both the local communities and the nation as a whole. All of the ranger-led programs are free and include:
Presented daily will be Cedar Creek and Belle Grove “in a Box” –a 30 minute overview on the history and settlement of the Shenandoah Valley, the Battle of Cedar Creek and the impact of the Civil War on the local community. This interactive program, for both adults and children, uses various props (taken out of a box) and the surrounding landscape features to “create” and tell the park’s many stories by literally placing visitors “in the middle of the park.” Offered daily at11:30 a.m. (Sundays at 2:30 p.m.) on the front lawn of Belle Grove.
Programs offered on a regular basis, as staffing permits, include:
Battle of Cedar Creek Tour A two-hour guided tour, using a car-caravan system (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle), will cover the Battle of Cedar Creek in a chronological fashion. This 13 mile tour follows the major events of the fighting and includes approximately 5 or 6 stops at the key landmarks associated with the battle. Tours begin at the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters (8437 Valley Pike, Middletown) . Offered every Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and regularly throughout the remainder of each week.
“From Back Country to Breadbasket” The Peopling of the Shenandoah Valley This 30 minute overview program covers the history of the Shenandoah Valley from its creation, through the eve of the Civil War. This program will be presented on the front lawn of Belle Grove.
“To Battlefield and Beyond” War Comes to the Shenandoah Valley This 45 minute program examines the many military campaigns and battles that occurred in the Valley and their effect upon the local communities. Presented at Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park.
Civil War Entrenchment Tour Explore some of the most pristine Civil War entrenchments that survive in the Shenandoah Valley. Preserved by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, join a Park Ranger to learn how these works were constructed and also the role they played in the battle. Meet at the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (8437 Valley Pike, Middletown). Offered every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
Middletown Civil War Walking Tours Discover how the citizens of Middletown lived through those difficult times and how the war impacted their lives. Meet the ranger for a 90 minute walking tour at the intersection of Main Street and First Street, Middletown. Offered at 5:00 p.m. on the 2nd Saturday of each month, June-October. (June 14, July 12, August 9,September 13 and October 11)
The 8th Vermont Monument at Cedar Creek Visit one of the few monuments located on the battlefield and learn the story of the New England regiment it memorializes. Meet at 8739 Valley Pike, Middletown, VA 22645 (a Park Service banner marks the site). A short walk over moderate terrain is required.
A series of special History at Sunset programs will be presented on select Friday evenings throughout the summer and fall. These tours will cover a wide variety of subjects related to the park’s rich cultural history and give visitors an opportunity to see sites not normally open to the public. Explore and learn about some of the many “hidden gems” of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP. Tours will be 60-90 minutes. The program schedule will be released at a later date.
This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Valley Campaign, including the Battle of Cedar Creek, fought on October 19, 1864. The park and its partners are planning a series of special programs and events to commemorate these anniversaries, including:
1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign “in a Box” This special program provides an overview of the various1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaigns and battles. This interactive presentation uses the surrounding landscape features and various props (taken from a box) to “create” the Valley and place visitors “in the middle of the campaign.” Great for kids and adults alike! Presented at Belle Grove.
Other commemorative events and programs will be offered throughout the fall, including a series of “On This Day” Anniversary tours, a National Park Service Guest Lecture Series and special events and programs over the Battle of Cedar Creek anniversary weekend (October 17-20). These include, battle reenactments and living history demonstrations, special National Park Service ranger programs, a commemoration ceremony, lectures, Auto Tour Battlefield Stations, a children’s activity tent and much more. A tentative schedule of anniversary events, along with ranger program schedules can be found on the park website (www.nps.gov/cebe) or call (540) 869-3051.