Return to contents page

[PREVIOUS SECTION]


6. Preservation and Interpretation Potential

This section describes the preservation and interpretation scenarios for each of the battlefields, drawing upon the descriptions of condition and threat outlined in Part Three of this report, current land use practices, and upon comments received from individuals and local governments during the public comment period. These possibilities for preservation and interpretation are offered as guidance to the types of actions that could be pursued at each site within a regional preservation framework. Sites are discussed in order, from the most at risk to the least at risk.

1. Front Royal: Preservation and interpretation efforts for this battlefield would need to focus, first, on providing an adequate driving tour of the remaining resources. Many visitors could be encouraged to drive Stonewall Jackson's route from Limeton to Cedarville, if the route was marked and interpreted. Such a tour would pass through the center of town, tempting visitors to visit the city's museums and patronize its businesses. Interpretive signage at Prospect Hill Cemetery would enable an understanding of the battle areas covered over by the town of Front Royal. Access to the North and South Fork bridge sites would assist interpretation and might be acquired by public access easement. Public access by hiking trail to an overlook on the crest of Guard Hill could be sought by donation or by easement. The Thomas McKay House and US surrender site north of Cedarville would probably need to be acquired by purchase and considerable restoration work would be required to make the site attractive to visitors. (Even in its current condition, several hundred visitors stop there each year.) Summary: Potential for driving tour with several interpretive stops in an altered setting. The level of local government support for such an effort is unknown.

2. First Winchester: Although lost as a coherent landscape, enough remains of the battlefield to allow commemoration and some level of interpretation of the events. Bowers Hill, which was the focus of the Federal defense, remains a prominent landmark, despite residential development. The importance of this site could be appreciated by an overlook and interpretive shelter on the crest of the hill that lies west of and adjacent to US 11, north of rte. 622, and south of the abandoned Winchester and Western railroad spur. The abandoned spur line could be modified as a trail with interpretive signs along the way. This path parallels the course taken by the Louisiana brigade on its way to assault Bowers Hill. Easements could be sought to allow hikers to climb from the railroad to the hill crest and overlook. The site would retain interpretive value even if the planned residential construction for this area occurs. The developers of the site might benefit by a combined recreational and interpretive trail that serves residents, while at the same time allowing public appreciation of the battlefield site. Summary: Landscape preservation options are extremely limited. Potential exists for public-private interpretive/commemorative effort utilizing small parcels within a vastly altered setting.

3. Opequon: One of the largest and most significant battlefields of the Valley, a portion of its core--east of I-81, south of Redbud Road, west of rte. 656, and north of the residential and commercial development along VA 7--retains considerable integrity. The potential remains here for some form of larger scale landscape preservation, although currently much of the area is scheduled for residential development. Hackwood Estate, which was recently on the market, was a focal point of the battle and could be acquired by purchase. With Hackwood Estate alone, the battle could be interpreted, although this would fall short of landscape preservation. Adjacent lands in the First Woods and Middle Field sections (where from a third to half of the battle's fatalities were incurred) would probably need to be acquired fee-simple. The properties' owners have expressed a previous willingness to sell. Redbud Run Valley, if protected by easements, could provide a scenic-natural corridor and wildlife refuge, of particular value if residential development in the area continues to fill in the available open space. The City of Winchester and Frederick County have expressed an interest in efforts to establish a visitor contact facility at this site. Such an effort would be expensive and may not be timely enough to prevent loss of remaining resources. Summary: Potential for preserving 200 to 900 acres of the core area exists through fee simple acquisition. Park establishment might be supported by local governments.

4. Second Kernstown: The key to interpreting Second Kernstown battlefield is Pritchard's Hill. Without this feature in its current setting, the battlefield would be lost. The view from Opequon Church (where there are currently interpretive signs) to Pritchard's Hill enables a full interpretation of the battle, making it essential that the intervening property be protected through zoning, easements, incentives, or some other arrangement suitable to the owners. Summary: This property displays potential for a battlefield park of manageable proportions. Local government officials have expressed interest in exploring the potential of a park at this site.

5. Second Winchester: The essential fieldwork, Star Fort, is critically endangered. Although about 7 acres of the fort area is currently preserved, the surrounding 50 acres is zoned commercial/industrial and would probably need to be acquired fee simple on the open market to preserve the viewshed. Some public access to Fort Milroy could probably be negotiated but restoration would be required. The viewshed from Apple Pie Ridge to West Fort (Louisiana Heights) could be protected by the purchase of easements. This would be an ideal site for an interpretive shelter and battle map. The land south of Stephenson's Depot (bounded by US 11, rte. 761, rte. 662, and rte. 838) is by far the best preserved part of the battlefield and holds great potential for interpretation. This parcel would probably need to acquired fee simple. Summary: Landscape preservation potential exists but at a limited number of sites. Significant parcels would need to be acquired soon--fee simple purchase--in order to prevent further deterioration of this battlefield.

6. New Market: The VMI New Market Battlefield Park could be enlarged by acquiring more land from willing sellers. This would expand the ability to protect and interpret the battlefield. A study should be conducted to determine if I-81 could be screened in some way to make it less intrusive without further disrupting the landscape contours. The existing battlefield park could serve as an access point for visitors who wish to see other Valley battlefields. Summary: Acquisition of property or easements from willing sellers would enhance the preserved portions of the battlefield. The battlefield park would require some form of assistance.

7. First Kernstown: Pritchard's Hill (See Second Kernstown) and Sand Ridge form the interpretive nuclei of the First Kernstown battlefield. Although bisected by the VA 37 bypass, these parcels are visually and strategically related. The Sand Ridge parcel cannot be adequately interpreted from the road. Access through easement or donation would be required. The Sand Ridge parcel has been placed in the Glen Burnie Trust. Some means should be found to provide further incentive to the owner to maintain the land in its current condition. Summary: If coupled with the parcel discussed under Second Kernstown, this property displays great potential for a park of manageable proportions. Park establishment might be supported by the local governments. Such a park could serve as an introduction to two major Valley campaigns.

8. Tom's Brook: This battlefield could be interpreted from the vantage point of Sand Ridge Church. Easements could be on Tom's Brook Valley and on the opposing portions of Spiker's Hill. An overlook could be established on the site where Custer rode out and doffed his hat to his opponent. A marked hiking trail, leading from North Mountain to the Massanutten Mountain already traverses the battlefield along the county roads. The viewshed from Spiker's Hill to the head of Massanutten Mountain is one of the most striking of the Valley and could be protected through easements and planning at the county level. Interpretive signs could be placed in the existing county park to describe fighting on the Valley Pike. Under current plans, it appears that Round Hill, a distinctive landmark, eventually may be encircled by commercial and industrial development, spawned by the interstate interchange. Efforts to preserve the rural character of sections of the cross roads between Back Road and the Valley Pike (rtes. 653, 655, 657, and 642), which were used as routes of maneuver by the US cavalry, would enhance the battlefield setting. Summary: Landscape preservation is possible and desirable but would require easement protection for hundreds of acres. Fee simple acquisition might be required to preserve portions of the core areas. Acquisition of public access easements and an interpretive overlook at Spiker's Hill would be crucial.

9. Cool Spring: Much of the battlefield on the west bank of the river is owned by the Holy Cross Abbey, which has expressed a desire to maintain its high integrity. A golf course is scheduled for redevelopment on the east bank, and the historic Judge Parker House would serve as a club house. The owners might be willing to offer some public access to the fords and interpretive signage. Technical assistance could be offered in this endeavor. Summary: Potential exists for cooperation among private owners to reach a development/preservation compromise that would benefit all parties. Public access will probably continue to be limited to appointment.

10. Fisher's Hill: This site offers much potential for developing a creative solution to the private property-public access issue. Much of the battle can be interpreted from the roads with well-designed pull-offs and signage. With cooperation of landowners, a hiking trail could be designed to follow a portion of the surviving CS entrenchments, using the old bridge site and roadbed of the Valley Pike as an access point. This would require a footbridge over the creek, which could be gated to prevent unauthorized access. Easements given for the hiking trail could be modeled on the Trails for Vermont contract, which allows persons to use a trail only if they register, stay within bounds, and follow specified rules. Property owners could revoke right-of-way, if there are violations. The potential for private development of battlefield resources is significant: the old mill would be admirably suited as a museum and interpretive center; several period homes in the area could be developed as bed and breakfast inns. Private development of this type would need to be directed by the local landowners and supported by incentives. APCWS owns 195 acres of the battlefield, providing a suitable core for visitation. The conservation fund holds a protective easement on about 80 acres. Summary: Scenic valley. High potential for public- private battlefield development, utilizing creative public access techniques built around currently protected portion of battlefield core.

11. Cedar Creek: The National Trust and the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation have made a good start in preserving portions of the battlefield around Belle Grove Mansion through private donations. Their efforts should be supported. Several adjacent parcels could be acquired immediately from willing sellers. The viability of agriculture is slipping at this end of Frederick County, and some means could be found to support farmers to retain as much land as possible in agricultural production. The landscape between Belle Grove and Cemetery Hill is most in danger of residential development, and hundreds of acres would need to be protected through purchase of easements in order to retain the high integrity of the currently preserved parcels. Summary: The landscape is largely intact with some intrusions. Retaining the integrity of currently preserved portions of the battlefield core will require fee simple acquisition of several large parcels and negotiated easements on hundreds of acres more. Because of the significance of this battle, this National Historic Landmark property displays potential for a Federal battlefield park. Park establishment would be supported at some level by the local governments. Because of the potential expense, vital portions of the battlefield north of Middletown might need to be given a lower priority for action.

12. Piedmont: This battlefield can be interpreted from the public roads with adequate signage, pull- offs, and interpretive materials. Farmers could be encouraged to continue the agricultural use of their property by some form of incentives. Local landowners organized to form a county agricultural preservation district that encompasses much of the battlefield. These landowners could be supported by tax or other incentives. A small, interpretive wayside with a battle map could be established near the angle of the Confederate line where ``Grumble'' Jones was killed. Summary: Landscape is largely intact. Minimal public access is needed. Easements would be required at specified interpretive stops and where necessary to protect battlefield land where agricultural incentives are not successful. Agricultural preservation incentives are recommended.

13. Cross Keys: Cross Keys offers a wonderful opportunity for landscape preservation, using the agricultural preservation district approach. The Lee-Jackson Foundation owns 100 acres of key ground on Victory Hill, allowing public access. This ground would need to be cleared of scrub and an unobtrusive, interpretive shelter put into place. Easements could be acquired, allowing public access to battle sites not visible from the roads. Restoration of the old Cross Keys Tavern by private groups should be supported and encouraged. Summary: The landscape is largely intact. Currently preserved land could be secured by purchase of easements on adjacent parcels. Easements for public access would be required at several sites within the battlefield. There is potential for developing a battlefield hiking trail. Agricultural preservation incentives are recommended.

14. Port Republic: Port Republic battlefield can be viewed almost entirely from public roads with adequate signage and interpretive materials. APCWS owns about 8 acres at the Coaling site, allowing interpretation from this vantage point. The bottomland, where severe fighting occurred, is currently farmed. The railroad right-of-way across this ground could be used to provide public access if deemed necessary. Easements could be sought or incentives provided to continue agricultural use on this portion of the battlefield. The village of Port Republic is listed on the National Register, and the Society of Port Republic Preservationists has recently purchased the ``Turner Ashby House'' to serve as a museum and potential interpretive center for the town and battle. With adequate support, the site could serve as a public access point for the battles of Cross Keys, Port Republic, and Piedmont. Summary: Potential exists for public-private cooperation in preserving and interpreting three nearby battlefields. Landscape is largely intact. Agricultural preservation incentives are recommended.

15. McDowell: Pristine and scenic, the battlefield holds great potential for attracting visitors, who are interested in nature as well as history. The APCWS and the Lee-Jackson Foundation own about 200 acres of battlefield core, including the crest of Sitlington's Hill and a hiking trail to reach it. The view of the Valley is well worth the arduous climb. Currently, there is no on-site interpretation, and this would need to be expanded. An interpretive shelter in the town with several cannon (perhaps at the site of US batteries on Cemetery Hill) would encourage visitors. Summary: Landscape is largely preserved and protected. Interpretive assistance is required.


[NEXT SECTION]

Return to contents page

Creation Date: 3/13/95
DWL

Last Update 7/17/95 by VLC