Programs offered at Cedar Creek & Belle Grove Park

Posted: March 26, 2013

Star staff report

Middletown — Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park began ranger-conducted programs in 2010, and these will continue this year, beginning on weekends in the spring.

Below are descriptions of the various programs and activities, all of which tell the park’s many stories related to the cultural history of the Shenandoah Valley and the American Civil War.

Ranger programs

These free programs examine the history and settlement of the Shenandoah Valley, the Battle of Cedar Creek, its aftermath and the impact of the Civil War on both the local communities and the nation as a whole.

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove “in a Box” — A Park Overview Program

This is a 30-minute orientation program 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 uses the surrounding landscape features and various props (taken from a box) to “create” the park and tell its many stories by literally placing visitors “in the middle of the park.” Meet near the picnic area on Belle Grove’s front lawn.

“From Back Country to Breadbasket” — The Peopling of the Shenandoah Valley

A 30-minute program covers the early history of the Shenandoah Valley through the eve of the Civil War. Meet near the picnic area on Belle Grove’s front lawn.

“To Battlefield and Beyond” — War Comes to the Shenandoah Valley

This 40-minute program examines the physical, economic and emotional impacts of many military campaigns and battles that occurred in the Valley. This presentation emphasizes that it was more than just the soldiers on the battlefield who suffered. Meet at the Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park.

Battle of Cedar Creek Tour

A two-hour guided tour, using a car-caravan system (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle), covers the Battle of Cedar Creek in a chronological fashion.

This 13-mile tour follows the major events of the fighting and includes approximately five or six stops at key battlefield landmarks. Meet at the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters.

Middletown Civil War Walking Tours

Learn of the citizens of Middletown who lived through those times and how the war impacted their lives. Meet the ranger for a 90-minute walking tour at the stop light, corners of First Street and Main Street, Middletown (normally offered once a month).

Civil War Entrenchments Tour

Some of the most pristine Civil War entrenchments that survive in the Shenandoah Valley are located on the bluffs above Cedar Creek and are preserved by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation. Join a park ranger or foundation staff for a special walking tour and learn not only how these works were constructed but also what role they played in the battle. Meet at the parking lot of the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, 8437 Valley Pike, Middletown (normally offered once a week during the summer).

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 (a park service banner marks the site). A short walk over moderate terrain is required. Good walking shoes or boots are recommended.

History at Sunset

On select Friday evenings during the summer, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP will present a series of specialized tours in and around the park that will cover a wide variety of subjects related to the park and its rich cultural history. These programs will give visitors an opportunity to see sites not normally open to the public.

Explore and learn about some of the “hidden gems” of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove. Each tour begins at 7 p.m. and is designed to last 60-90 minutes. Program schedule and starting locations will be announced at a later date

Program schedules will be set on a weekly basis.

Check the website nps.gov/cebe or call 540-869-3051.

Attractions

Belle Grove Plantation Manor House

It is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. This antebellum plantation manor house, built by Isaac Hite Jr. (brother-in-law of President James Madison) is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is managed by Belle Grove Inc. Visitors can tour the restored 1797 Manor House on a guided tour (fee) and explore the plantation grounds and museum gift shop (free). Location: 336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown. Call 540-869-2028 or visit bellegrove.org. Grounds are free. House tour costs $10 with discounts for National Trust members, seniors, children and AAA members.

Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters, 8437 Valley Pike, Middletown

It is open seasonally. Call before visiting. This orientation center and bookstore is operated by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, which also preserves more than 300 acres of core battlefield land. The center also offers interpretive exhibits, displays and artifacts on the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign and the battle. Contact 540-869-2064 or visit cedarcreekbattlefield.org. It is free.

National Park Service Visitor Contact Station, 7712 Main St., Middletown

It is open daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The orientation center has interpretive exhibits and displays. Maps and brochures for the park and the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District are available. Contact 540-868-9176 or visit nps.gov/cebe.