Distance Learning

The Spirit of the Mountain

Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Social Studies
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.1, 6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.3, 6-8.RH.4, 6-8.RH.5, 6-8.RH.6, 6-8.RH.7, 6-8.RH.8, 6-8.RH.9, 9-10.RH.1, 9-10.RH.2, 9-10.RH.3, 9-10.RH.4, 9-10.RH.5, 9-10.RH.6, 9-10.RH.7, 9-10.RH.8, 9-10.RH.9, 11-12.RH.1, 11-12.RH.2, 11-12.RH.3, 11-12.RH.4, 11-12.RH.5, 11-12.RH.6, 11-12.RH.7, 11-12.RH.8, 11-12.RH.9
State Standards:
Virginia Standards of Learning
VUS.1, VUS.10, VS.1, VS.2, VS.4, VS.9, GOVT.1, GOVT.9, GOVT.11, GOVT.16, CE.1, CE.3, CE.9, CE. 11, USII.1, USII.6, WG.12

This program connects the social, economic, geographic, and political history of the 1920s and 1930s with the establishment of Shenandoah National Park and the people whose lives were impacted.


The Spirit of the Mountain: The Story of Shenandoah National Park is a web-based program designed to provide resources for teachers to use the complex story of the establishment of Shenandoah National Park to teach concepts called out by state and national standards for history, civics, economics, government, and geography. The program provides informative videos, interactive activities, and suggestions that can be used for thought provoking journaling/discussion topics or additional activities. Materials can be used for a wide range of topics including, but not limited to:

  • History of Shenandoah National Park
  • Constitutional Power of Eminent Domain
  • Examining Opportunity Cost and Benefits
  • Social, Economic, and Political History of the 1920s and 30s
  • Virginia History and Geography
  • History of the National Park System

The program is divided into five lessons providing a comprehensive overview of the establishment story of Shenandoah National Park:

  • Lesson 1 – Historical Context of Time
  • Lesson 2 – Concept of Place
  • Lesson 3 – People and Perspectives
  • Lesson 4 – Creation of Shenandoah National Park
  • Lesson 5 – Forward on Common Ground


At the conclusion of these lessons, students will be able to:

  1. Present a journal with recorded insights, ideas, and revelations about the establishment of Shenandoah National Park and its impact on local communities and the nation both past and present.
  2. Describe the geographical, historical, social, and political factors which influenced the creation of Shenandoah National Park as a new National Park in the eastern United States.
  3. Locate the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and explain how and why privately owned land was acquired to create Shenandoah National Park; including the use of eminent domain.
  4. Compare and contrast the various perspectives of the people involved in the establishment of Shenandoah National Park including Presidents, State and local officials, neighboring communities, and mountain residents.
  5. Use primary and secondary documents and historic photographs to evaluate the pros and cons of how and why Shenandoah National Park was established.
  6. Describe the mission, role, and legacy of Shenandoah National Park today; and identify ways citizens can help care for the Park and their communities.

How to Participate

There are five parts, each containing a short movie, an interactive element, and suggested journaling or discussion topics and activities. Ideally, students would start at the beginning and work their way through the curriculum over the course of several class periods, or as the topic of each part becomes relevent to the teacher's syllabus.

There are many opportunities for teacher-led whole-class and student-led small group discussions, as well as assignments and projects. Additionally, teachers can pick and choose specific elements to supplement their current lesson plans and create project-based assessments.

Begin The Spirit of the Mountain 

This program is formatted for a full screen. If you receive an error message choose "Full Screen Mode" to play the program.

This project was funded through fee revenue and donations to the Shenandoah National Park Trust.

Last updated: September 27, 2021