Explore Waynesboro’s Rich Roots

Explore Waynesboro’s Rich Roots

Like your travel adventures wrapped in historical context? Are you the person always wondering “How and why did this place come to be what it is today?” Most seasoned travelers would agree that destinations that have a deep dedication to history create the most vivid and memorable travel experiences, and a visit to Waynesboro, Virginia, won’t disappoint!

 

Immerse Yourself in a History Weekend

photo by Portia Schneider

Step back into Civil War history at the annual Waynesboro at War educational and interactive event, September 15 and 16, 2018, at Waynesboro’s Coyner Springs Park. Waynesboro at War highlights the Civil War action seen in Waynesboro. Spectators can participate in a Civil War town ball game and Civil War Dance Social, as well as talk with soldiers from both armies and experience camp life, cavalry, and artillery demonstrations.  Ticket information and details can be found at https://www.waynesboroatwar.com/

 

Examine the Foundations of a Modern City

There are historic landmarks around every corner in Waynesboro, so the curious among you can easily meander through the pages of Waynesboro’s story from early settlement in the 1700s, through to the Civil War, and on to the industrial boom in the late 1800s. Waynesboro’s historic districts and seven independently-listed properties on the National Register of Historic Places paint a vivid picture of the underpinnings of the city as it stands today.

Start your exploration at the Waynesboro Heritage Museum, 420 West Main Street (open Tues-Sat, 9-5pm, call 540-943-3943) which houses permanent galleries of relics from the town’s founding, industries, and educational institutions, as well as stories of how land was acquired under King George II of England in 1797, of when Waynesboro as stagecoach stop called Teasville (Teesville), and of how Waynesboro’s namesake, Brigadier General “Mad” Anthony Wayne got his nickname.

Next, visit the Plumb House Museum at 1012 W. Main Street (open Thurs-Sat, 10-4pm, call 540-943-3943) to view additional collections of Civil War and Native American artifacts, a historic garden, summer kitchen, and outbuildings. The Plumb House was built during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency and was later caught in the middle of the Civil War Battle of Waynesboro, standing just opposite the battle site. The house still bears the scars of gunshots and a cannonball that entered a chimney and rolled across the room.

Then call ahead (540-836-0024) for a tour of Waynesboro’s African-American Heritage Museum. The museum houses a small but rich collection that weaves a tapestry of revered figures in the community. Waynesboro’s Rosenwald School was one of many built across the South as the result of the partnership and friendship between Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington. Rosenwald’s philanthropy and contributions to the African-American community was the subject of an award-winning film “Rosenwald.”

 

Take a Self-Guided Tour of Historic Architecture

While visiting the African-American Heritage Museum, be sure to take in the Port Republic Road Historic District, Waynesboro’s principal historic African-American neighborhood. The area includes significant architectural and cultural landmarks including Rosenwald School and Grounds, Fairview Cemetery (1885-present), and Shiloh Baptist Church (1924).

Fishburne Military School

Another notable Waynesboro architectural landmark is also the oldest and smallest of all military schools for boys in Virginia. Fishburne Military School is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and architectural highlights include the 1915 library (Virginia’s second-oldest Carnegie library) and the 1916 barracks designed in the castellated Gothic style by T.J. Collins & Son.

Preserved and restored commercial and residential architecture abounds in the Waynesboro Downtown Historic District and the Tree Streets Historic District. Visitors will find numerous architecturally distinctive buildings representing the Classical Revival, Art Deco, Gothic Revival, and Greek Revival styles.

Whether you prefer your travel memories via full immersion, curated collections, or self-guided exploration, Waynesboro has something exciting and enduring for you. Stop by one of our Visitor Centers or request a brochure today to get started!

Crush Friday, VA! 7 Stress-Busting Weekender Ideas

Friday is the day for rolling down the windows and rolling out of town, headed for adventures that relax and invigorate. These seven stress-busting weekend ideas will help you fully rejuvenate, but they come with a warning: with this much fun, you may never want your weekend to end.

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The Oldest Rocks, the Deepest History: Five Reasons to Visit Virginia’s Historic Blue Ridge Mountains

The ancient Blue Ridge Mountains shelter not only millions of years of species diversity, but also tell a compelling story of native and early European settler history. Their rolling hills, shaded forests, and granite peaks invite visitors to experience history in a hands-on way, providing the perfect combination of education and exploration in this uniquely accessible mountain setting. We’re sharing five reasons to make the Blue Ridge Mountains your next geographic and cultural history adventure.

1. The Blue Ridge Mountains are the oldest in the hemisphere, and nearly the world.

Sculpting the soft curves and inviting slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains was no overnight trick of nature’s magic. Creating an ecosystem so diverse, ancient, and enchanting was a nearly billion year endeavor, and today’s Blue Ridges are the final testaments to mountains that once soared as high as any other in their day. Created by uplifting action from to the collisions of Earth’s tectonic plates, the Blue Ridge Mountains are second in age only to South Africa’s Barberton greenstone belt. While they may be smaller, this grandmother of a mountain range is many times the age of either the Rockies or the Himalayas, both mere geological upstarts in comparison. The Blue Ridge Mountains are living proof to the old adage, “it takes a long time to make something that looks this good.”

2. Explore the rich history of Native American settlements

While many children learn in school about the eastern Virginia Powhatan, in the mountain regions to the west dwelled the Siouan Indians of the Monacan and Mannahoac tribes, living in a confederation that stretched from the James River fall line in Richmond to the Blue Ridge. In these mountains, they grew the “Three Sisters” (corn, beans, and squash) along with fruit orchards, grapes, and nuts. Today, visitors can participate in a Monacan Indian living history exhibit at Natural Bridge State Park where they can learn about traditional cooking, tool production, pottery, basket weaving, gardening, and shelter construction.

Photo from the Virginia Department of Conservation https://www.flickr.com/photos/vadcr/27389921650/in/album-72157669233431052/

3. Visit the “Museum of the Managed American Countryside.”

The National Park Service calls the Blue Ridge Parkway the “museum of the managed American countryside” due to its easily accessible driving tour of historic sites such as the rough-hewn log cabins of mountain pioneers and the visible traces of early logging, railway, and canal industries. From the Humpback Rocks Visitors Center just south of Waynesboro, parkway travelers can walk through the Mountain Farm Trail to explore early settler life in the mountains, with log cabins collected from the surrounding region for easy viewing. During the summer, the log cabins are both open and staffed with historic educators.

Photo from https://blog.virginia.org/2016/08/blue-ridge-parkway-hikes-virginia/

4. Plumb the Depths of Ancient Geology

“Where History Runs Deep” is the apt and inspiring motto for Grand Caverns, a national natural landmark in Grottoes, Virginia. Formed from underground water action in the region’s limestone rock, Grand Caverns claims to be America’s oldest show cave, in operation since 1806. Visitors can stroll through high ceilings and open caverns in their classic tour, or sign up for an “Adventure Tour” through Fountain Cave. Fountain Cave was recently reopened to the public after almost 100 years, and visitors will be treated to a true caving experience that includes no interior lighting, a once-used rugged 1800s pathway, and a full outfitting of helmets, knee pads, and caving gloves. For those seeking a better lit encounter with geologic history, a hiking trail, swimming pool, miniature golf course, and picnic area provide family-friendly complements to the full caving experience.

Photo from https://www.facebook.com/Grand-Caverns-118751574853602/

5. Mile-by-Mile Driving Destinations, for Every Variety of Historic Adventure

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers nearly 500 miles of unfolding adventure, from waterfall walks to roadside historic interpretive signs. This Milepost Guide offers a turn-by-turn description of the cabin getaways, living history exhibits, sweeping vista overlooks, and roadside geologies of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Whether sticking to the Parkway or exploring the small towns and historic destinations in the mountain foothills, the road may be winding but it is never less than breathtaking, historic, and adventure filled.

Location, Location — Why Waynesboro is Divinely Placed for Your Weekend Getaway

Weekend warriors seeking the perfect base camp are finding their sweet spot at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 64. Sitting a mere 90 minutes from Richmond and less than three hours from Washington, D.C., Waynesboro offers a weekend of outdoor adventure, cultural excursions, and historic explorations — all within a short country drive of this “divinely placed” getaway.

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A Trail of Two Waynesboros

Hikers of the Appalachian Trail may be surprised to find Waynesboro on their map twice—once in Virginia and once in Pennsylvania. Both are designated Appalachian Trail Communities (Waynesboro, PA shares its ATC designation with Washington Township and together they go by “Greater Waynesboro Area, PA”). Hikers visiting both locales can expect a warm welcome when they stop to resupply, and visitors taking a faster mode of transportation will be equally charmed by the small-town culture.

Main Street in downtown Waynesboro, VA.

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The Darker Side of the Shenandoah

The Darker Side of the Shenandoah – The Legends & Stories Waiting for You Near Waynesboro, VA

Coming to the Shenandoah Valley for the spring wildflowers and a gentle stroll?  This isn’t the trip planner for you. But if you’re looking for a little mystery to go with your outdoor explorations, read on! Like every beautiful place, the Shenandoah Valley is also home to a whole series of legends and stories of a darker nature – sightings and encounters that defy explanation, handed down over generations of adventurers. Here are a few ideas for a walk on the wild side near Waynesboro, VA.

The Dreaded Wampus of the Blue Ridge Mountains

“A piercing scream.”  “An awful smell, like a skunk and a wet dog.”  “Five feet tall.”   “An unholy hybrid of canine and feline.”   “It was holding my pal with a hand.  Then it hissed and took off – on two legs!”

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Heritage in Every Step: The Figures Behind Waynesboro Street Names

Waynesboro, Virginia, is well known as the crossroads of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. An ideal launching point to enjoy the trails of the Shenandoah Valley, the city itself also holds much to explore. A look into the street signs crisscrossing the city reveals a deep and lasting appreciation for the rich history, art, industry, and musical culture that deeply infuses Waynesboro.

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Honoring Veterans and Celebrating Heritage at Fishburne Military School

Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley and at the heart of Waynesboro, Virginia, stands a vibrant testament to the values of integrity and citizenship.  For over 135 years, historic Fishburne Military School has prepared young men for college and a life of leadership.  The oldest and smallest of all military schools in Virginia, Fishburne Military School enrolls 200 student cadets each year into its distinguished academic curriculum built on the structure of an Army JROTC program.  

Founded in 1879, by Professor James Abbott Fishburne, the history and heritage of Fishburne Military School is steeped in rich traditions that honor the past, engage the present, and prepare for the future.  The school’s focus on honor and service shines brightly in Waynesboro as the Fishburne Military School Corps of Cadets actively participates in service projects, review and demonstrations, parades, and poignant ceremonies throughout the community and region.

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The High-Octane Life in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Waynesboro, Virginia, is renowned for an abundance of high-octane thrills, with mountain biking and rock climbing often highlighted. A spirited heritage runs deep in these Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, and an exploration into the region’s rich lore and mystique is itself an adventure!


These Spirited Mountains

Photo credit: Blue Ridge Institute & Museum of Ferrum College

“Mash,” “granny fee,” “singlings,” “mountain dew,” and “a bootleg turn”… the language, mystique, and modern media portrayals of Blue Ridge moonshining have created quite a body of lore.

For the real scoop on the history and culture of untaxed liquor in the mountains of Virginia, there’s no better resource than the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum’s online exhibition, “Moonshine – Blue Ridge Style.

Settlers to the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1700s brought their traditions with them, including distilling grains into whiskey and fruit into brandy and using the leftover “slop” from the process for livestock feed. The United States government first began taxing alcohol to help pay for the Revolutionary War. Those distillers who chose not to get a license nor pay tax on their whiskey became known as “bootleggers” and “moonshiners.

Photo credit: Blue Ridge Institute & Museum of Ferrum College

When Virginia banned alcohol in 1914, the demand for moonshine only increased, and previously licensed distillers and bootleggers alike found illegal, but highly creative means to continue to produce and deliver their liquor.

For firsthand accounts and tall tales of moonshine’s role in mountain life, search the online issues of “The Mountain Laurel – The Journal of Mountain Life.” From “medicinal uses” and working a still before school to a story about a gorilla protecting the still of one moonshiner, this collection is a treasure trove of memories and stories!

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