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Winchester, Frederick County and Clarke County are the main areas covered in The Winchester Star.

History

Winchester was the first settlement and first chartered city west of the Blue Ridge (1752). Originally called Frederick Town, after the father of King George III, the town was renamed after the ancient capital of England by Col. James Wood, the city’s founder. Despite its English political ancestry, the region was primarily settled by Germans who brought their crafts and trades and established the area’s heritage of industry and commerce.

Frederick County, which surrounds the City of Winchester, was established in 1738 from part of the "Northern Neck" land grant by Charles II in 1649 to (through inheritance) Thomas Lord Fairfax. The county originally comprised 8,235 square miles. At various times, other counties were formed from Old Frederick, included Clarke, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren counties in Virginia and Berkeley, Hardy, Hampshire, Jefferson, and Morgan counties in West Virginia.

Clarke County formed from Frederick in 1836 and is named for Gen. George Rogers, a Revolutionary War hero.

The Winchester-Frederick County area has historically been a strategic crossroads. That description remains true today. Roughly 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within a 12-hour drive of the Interstate 81-Interstate 66 intersection in southern Frederick County. Va. 7, now a four-lane highway that goes toward Washington-Dulles International Airport and into Northern Virginia, was one of the earliest Colonial roads, crossing the Blue Ridge at Snicker’s Gap and on westward to Winchester. The Great Wagon Road, from Philadelphia to the southern Colonies, was supplanted by the Valley Turnpike, then by U.S. 11 and now by I-81.

Because of its location, the Winchester-Frederick County area played a crucial role in all of the wars that were fought on U.S. soil. It was a center of defense in the French and Indian War. Col. George Washington made Winchester his headquarters when he was sent to build a line of forts to defend the Virginia frontier. During the Civil War, Winchester was headquarters for both Stonewall Jackson and Sheridan. Five major battles were fought for control of the region and Winchester itself changed hands more than 70 times.

Topography

The topography of Frederick County is characterized by the rolling Shenandoah Valley, 8 to 10 miles wide. On its west flank sits mountains, ridges, and valleys of the Appalachian system.

Frederick County and the City of Winchester comprise 436 square miles or 279,000 acres. The City of Winchester occupies 9.3 square miles. The average altitude of the valley is about 700 feet above seas level. On ridgetops and mountaintops, the altitude is about 1,950 feet. The most prominent mountains are along the Virginia-West Virginia border, with Pinnacle Knob (2,844 feet) at the highest point in Frederick County. The lowest point in the county is about 500 feet. Handley Library, in downtown Winchester, is at 714 feet.

Clarke County is is 178 square miles. The highest point is along Paris Mountain (1,940 feet) in the southern portion of Clarke bordering Loudoun County.

 

Natural Resources

Groundwater: Winchester, Frederick are located in the Valley and Ridge Province, where limestone occurs producing large volumes of water, principally from fracture zones and solution channels. Springs are also a valuable source of water. Some produce 4,000 gallons a minute.

Surface Water: The Shenandoah River Basin is a main source of surface water.

Minerals: Sand and limestone are quarried in the county. The sedimentary racks of the area beloing to the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian Periods. These rocks are the parent materials of most soils in Frederick County.

Climate

There are four distinct seasons. Few days fall near zero degrees. Nine years in 10 will have growing seasons from 148 to 219 days, depending on daily minimum temperature.

Average January temperature: Normal High/Low is 41/22 degrees with the aveage 32 degrees.

Average April temperature: Normal High/Low is 66/41 degrees with the average 54 degrees.

Average July temperature: Normal High/Low is 88/65 degrees with the average of 77 degrees.

Average October temperature: Normal High/Low is 68/43 degrees with the average of 56 degrees.

Average annual precipitation: 35.3 inches

Average annual snowfall: 26.5 inches

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