Friday, June 9, 2017

Virginia - Appomattox


This stop was actually a last minute plan because we couldn't get into a place in Charlottsville, VA due to Memorial Day Weekend. 
We stayed at the Parkview RV Park, a combination mobile home park and RV park. The mobile homes are in the back section and very well maintain. It is right on the exit ramp of Hwy 460 so there was some road noise but not too bad at night. The park has about 40 sites and no amenities except WiFi which was pretty good. Our Verizon signal was strong. The sites are gravel and grass and fairly level with full hook ups. They are a little wider than normal, no picnic table or fire ring.  We paid $40 a night with no discounts offered. 

The motto of the town is "Where the Nation Reunited", as this is where the Civil War ended when General Lee surrendered to General Grant and the terms of the surrender where finalized. 
Visitor Center: Court House reconstructed in 1964
Original burned down in 1892

The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is about a mile from the RV park. The process started in 1933 after many years of neglect and failed attempts to create a memorial here. In 1930 Congress passed a bill for a monument to be built at the site. It never happened but the desire for one didn't go away. In 1933 the War Department who administered the area turned it over to the National Park Service. Congress authorized it as a National Monument in 1940. The creation of the park was put on hold until after the end of WWII in 1954. Today the village looks much as it did in April 1865, with some of the original buildings and others that have been reconstructed.
McLean House - reconstructed 
The parlor where the two generals met. 

In 1893 a company from Niagara Falls, NY dismantled the McLean House with plans to move it to Washington, DC as a war museum. This mission was never accomplished and the piles of brick and lumber were left to rot and disappear.  

On April 9, 1865, the surrender took place at the McLean House. Other confederate armies remained in the field, but Lee's surrender signaled the end of the war. Three days later the men of the Army of Northern Virginia turned over their flags and weapons and began their journey home. 
A painting of that day

The village sits in the center of the park, with each general's camps on either end of it. There are trails for hiking from one end to the other. 
L: Clover Hill Tavern ~~~ C: Appomattox County Jail ~~~ R: Meeks Store 
The Clover Hill Tavern is an original building, built in 1819 it is the oldest structure in the village. This is where the Federals printed the parole passes for Confederate soldiers. This County Jail was the second one, built in 1867 after the first jail burned in 1864. The Meeks Store was built in 1852 and is also an original building. It not only served as the general store but also the post office. 

Continuing our history lesson we headed to Red Hill ~ Patrick Henry National Memorial 
Top L: Carriage House    Top R: Patrick Henry bust
Bottom L: Law Offices    Bottom R: Blacksmith 
The Visitor Center offers a gift shop, a movie that details Henry's life and the worlds largest collection of Patrick Henry artifacts. Betsy, who was working that day was such a charm. She is very passionate about the history of the area and explained everything to us. She was very excited about our travels and we shared our blog address with her and she has already contacted us. Betsy if you are reading this thank you for making our visit so enjoyable. 
You can wander the grounds at your leisure and even bring your dog along on a leash. The house and law office are open for you to go in (you, not your dog). 

The Osage Orange Tree is over 60-feet tall with branches that span over 88-feet and a circumference of over 349-inches. The American Forest Foundation (national non-profit conservation group) estimates it to be over 300-years old and the largest one in the United States. It makes the house look like a doll house. 
The outline on the lawn in the right hand picture is the foundation of the 
west wing addition that burned down in 1919

The house was built in the 1770's and destroyed by fire in 1919 while his great-granddaughter Lucy Henry Harrison lived in it. She had added to the house over the years. The current house was rebuilt on the original foundations in 1957. 
The Law Office was built in the early 1770's as an overseeer's house by the previous owner. Henry used one room as his law office and the other was used as living quarters for his oldest boys, as space in the main home was limited. 

There is a small cemetery where Patrick Henry and his wife Dorothea Dandridge Henry are buried along with other family members. We have seen more than our share of elaborate headstones in our travels and it always amazes us when someone of prominence has such a simple one. 

In contrast to the family graves is the slave cemetery. There is only one headstone that belongs to Matilda Pannel. She married Harry Pannel after the Civil War and had at least 16 children. Many of her descendants still live in the area. The rest of the graves are either unmarked or marked with a rock. It is so hard to understand how people could be treated with such lack of regard. 
You get to the Slave cemetery following the Quarter Place Trail. It takes you past a reconstructed cabin and tobacco curing barn. 

When we left there we stopped at the San Soucy Vineyard and Brewery. Yes, a vineyard and brewery in one. What a cool place. The tasting area is in a small barn with tables set up and a small stage in one corner for live music. On one side of the barn is a food truck and small patio tables with umbrellas and the other side is a large grassy area with a tables as well. Nancy enjoyed a flight of 5-different beers and Les celebrated "Sangria Saturday" with a tasty peach sangria. 
We stopped and helped this
little guy across the

The Natural Bridge State Park allowed us to get some hiking in. This is one of the oldest tourist destinations in the U.S. It is a beautiful park, very well maintained. 
As you head down the path to the bridge you follow along the river bed and pass a number of small water falls. There is also a shuttle that you can take from the Visitor Center to the base of the bridge. It is then just a short walk to go under the bridge. It is also handicap accessible at this point. 
There are benches and rock walls all along the path to stop and rest and enjoy the beauty. 
The Bridge from both sides

The bridge was formed 1000's of years ago when a cavern collapsed and created the span that stands today. 
There are rows and rows of benches on either side of the bridge where you can sit. You will also find a large bin filled with hard hats - as rocks do fall from the bridge as well as water. Of course Nancy had to model one! 

Two legends surround the bridge. The Monacan Indian legend says that the bridge appeared just as they needed to escape from an enemy.  
There is also one that a young George Washington in 1750 surveyed the bridge site for Lord Fairfax and that the initials "GW" are carved into the side of the bridge. 

A time line of the bridge: 
In 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased the 157-acres of land that included the Natural Bridge from King George III for 20 shillings. 
In the late 1700's Jefferson built a two-room log cabin as a retreat for himself and guests. In 1833, Jefferson's heirs sold the land and the new owners erected the Forest Inn for all of the visitors who came. The bridge attained resort status in the late 1800's when Colonel Henry Parsons owned it. 
In 1998 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. 
The Saltpeter Cave was formed over many thousands of years ago from stream erosion. In 1806 Mr Jefferson leased out the space for the excavation of potassium nitrate. It was exhumed from the deposits of bird and bat droppings and used to make saltpeter which was then used to make gun powder. 
Left and Center: The Lost River ~~~~ Right: Lace Falls

From the bridge it is about a mile hike to the Lace Waterfalls, following the river the whole way. You cross over the Lost River which was discovered around 1812 when workmen from the Saltpeter Cave heard water. They blasted the opening you see in the left side picture.
There is a Monacan Living History Exhibit. It is estimated that a village similar to this one sat here around 1699. It is an interactive exhibit that depicts the daily life of the Monacan people. 

The displays include a Roundhouse. A single family dwelling built with a structure of tree limbs covered with bark, reed or cattails. The half dome structure is the Work Shelter - this is where the production of tools took place. The open rectangular structure is the Trade Area, where deerskin and beaver pelts were traded. 
The Long House was used for ceremonies and meetings. 

The rock wall that lines the path has openings for water run off. Nancy found them to be the perfect spot to snap some pictures of the river. 

Of course there were lots of flowers and ferns and this cool hollow tree. 
We really enjoyed our walk in woods here. 

Luckily the rain held off until we were back in our car and heading to Buchanan to see the Swinging Bridge
The bridge is 366-feet long and 57.5-feet tall. It is the only bridge of its type to cross the James River. Sections of the bridge date back to 1851 and it has witnessed Hunter's Civil War Raid, the rerouting of US Route 11 and numerous floods. Portions of the large stone piers are from the 1851 construction.

 It was built as the Buchanan Turnpike Company's Toll Bridge and it cost every person five cents to cross the wood bridge. An additional five cents for each horse, mule or oxen and another for each wagon. On June 13, 1864 the bridge was burned by Confederate soldiers. It was rebuilt following the war but was washed away in 1877 due to a flood. In 1897 the wood bridge was replaced with a steel one that was used till 1937 when the current bridge was built. At that time they decided to keep the wood bridge as a pedestrian bridge and it has been used as such ever since.
Les and Mielikki walked it, but Nancy just couldn't summon up the courage this time so she stayed on solid ground. The sign stating that only three people at a time were allowed didn't help her jitters! 

The drive back home took us on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a few miles, with more rain. 

Greenwood just outside of Charlottesville, VA is up next and a visit with Thomas Jefferson and Woodward Wilson. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to you! 

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Keeping things secure
Can you take a 3 or 4 hour road trip without some snack food? We can't! While all of our food is just a few feet away from the passenger seat, Nancy tries to stay seat-belted in as much as possible. 
We use a plastic bin to hold the containers of food and water bottles, but we were forever chasing it around the floor as it tips pretty easy. 
Bungee cord to the rescue. Wrapping it around the base of the seat belt and then fastening it around the can keeps it in place and easy to reach. 

No comments:

Post a Comment