Bristol is a town that straddles the Virginia-Tennessee border. In fact the state line runs right down the center of the town's main street, called State Street. Bristol, Virginia has a population of about 17,000 people, while Bristol, Tennessee boasts about 26,000 people. For some reason, Bristol, Tennessee is a bit better off than Bristol, Virginia. Bristol, TN has a median income of over $30,000 a year while Bristol, VA has a median income of just $27,000 a year. Bristol, TN also has a higher percentage of males to females... 90.6 males per 100 females in TN, only 82 males per 100 females in VA.
Bristol was recognized as the "Birthplace of Country Music," as per a Congressional resolution passed in 1998. Bristol is also well known as the home to Bristol Motor Speedway, and the track sits on the Tennessee side of town.
The towns were named after the city of Bristol, England, which has a population of 450,000 people, about ten times the size of both U.S. Bristols combined.
After George Washington moved to Mount Vernon, his closest neighbor, both in distance and friendship, was Colonel William Fairfax, who built and resided at Belvoir Plantation on a bluff overlooking the Potomac. William Fairfax was the grandson of the 4th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and his bother Thomas was the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron.
William Fairfax first lived in the Colonies in Marblehead, Massachusetts, but he moved to Virginia in the 1730s to oversee his bother Thomas' vast quantities of land. In 1741 William Fairfax construct Belvoir Plantation, an elegant mansion with splendid views of the River and into Maryland. William Fairfax had a tremendous political career, serving in such positions as President of the Governor's Council in Williamsburg, member of the House of Burgesses, Justice of the County Court, and as County Lieutenant.
William's bother, Thomas Fairfax, the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, lived at Belvoir for a few years before he moved to the Winchester, Virginia area. He was the first member of British nobility to live in America, and he employed George Washington as a surveyor of his lands.
During the American Revolution the mansion was confiscated by the fledgling American government. In 1783, fire destroyed much of the mansion and its surrounding buildings. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion ruins were further damaged when bombarded by the British fleet that was part of the force that captured Washington DC. Finally in 1917 the ruins of the house and the surrounding lands were acquired by Virginia and ceded to the US Army, forming today's Fort Belvoir. The obelisk monument at the family grave site was constructed in the 1920s as well. In 1931 the fort's commanding officer began the first archeological dig at the old house. In the 1970s a three-year archeological dig culminated in the site being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
The Belvoir Mansion site is located at a very poorly marked site on Fort Belvoir, Virginia. From the main gate, take Belvoir Road several miles to its end and turn right on Fairfax Drive. Where Fairfax Drive meets Forney Loop, there is a small parking area that sits at the trail head for the mansion trail. The trail is well-marked with many interpretive signs. The total distance from the parking lot to the grave site is only about a quarter mile, and the house is located at the halfway point just above the river.
One Island on the Bay (aka Sea Gull Island) on the southernmost of the Bridge-Tunnel's four manmade islands is an opportunity to stop, stretch your legs. There is a Scenic Overlook where viewing machines are located. An interpretive display of the construction of the Bridge-Tunnel is located just outside the Restaurant/Gift Shop There is a free 625-foot fishing pier where bluefish, trout, croaker, flounder, shark, and other species of fish are caught. There is a certified fish weighing station available.
We did stop to stretch our legs but did not go out on the fishing pier. We did have fun watching the visitors on the pier and on the Navy boats with the big fan on the back zipping around.
Natural Bridge is an unusual rock formation in western virginia that is worth visiting if you are in that part of the state. It is a naturally-formed bridge of rock that is about 70 meters tall and 30 meters wide, and is the largest such formation in the eastern US (there are larger ones in Utah in the Western US). The bridge was formed when the roof of a large underground cavern collapsed, except for the section which now forms the bridge. The cavern had been carved form the rock over millions of years by the small creek that now flows under the bridge.
Natural Bridge was surveyed by George Washington in his younger days, and was actually owned for a while by Thomas Jefferson, who purchased it and the surrounding land from the British government for 20 shillings.
Natural Bridge is privately owned, but open to tourists. It is a fun day for families with children. In addition to the bridge, there is a recreated Monacan Indian village that you can tour, as well as a wax museum and a small zoo. There is also a hotel where you can stay or dine.
On the way from Charlottesville to Jefferson vineyards I stopped for a while in a settlement called Simeon to visit a church built in 1892 - Saint Luke's Episcopal Chapel. But doors were closed in the late afternoon.
Scenes in Ford's novel Janice Meridith are laid in Simeon. Ive got to know from the sign (picture 3) that there was a house of Jefferson's friend Philip Mazzei in Simeon - it was called Colle. He was Italian surgeon, merchant, and horticulturist. He adapted grape culture to Virginia.
Some 300 yards south of VA-53 and VA-732 crossroads I've found the old Simeon farm store. Now it's BRIX Marketplace, a fantastic place to get lunch, I suppose but I was not hungry. Instead I amazed countryside landscape with vineyards along hills and meadows with pasturing cows.
Meadowlark Gardens is a location that's always gorgeous and never crowded. Be sure to visit the hilltop gazebo and stroll around the ponds.
Get a taste of autumn in this hidden gem.
George Washington Birthplace National Historic Monument is a 550-acre National Park Service site that commemorates the location where our first President George Washington was born and lived his earliest years. The main features of the monument are a marble obelisk, the family cemetery, a Memorial Mansion that was typical of the time, a colonial farm, a National Park visitors center, and the outline marking the foundation of the original house where Washington was born.
This area was settled by George Washington's Great Grandfather, John Washington in 1657 at a site called Bridges Creek, just north of George Washington's birth site. Washington's father Augustine expanded the family plantation by purchasing the land along the Broad Creek, moving the family's main house and renaming the entire estate the Broad Creek Plantation. The new house at Broad Creek was built sometime around 1718 and expanded several times over the year. In 1732, Washington was born in this house, which later became known as Wakefield. This house where Washington was born was destroyed by fire in 1779 and never rebuilt. In later years the foundation became buried in soil and undergrowth and was lost.
Virginia acquired the site in 1858 then passed it on to the Federal Government in 1882. soon the obelisk stood near the site of the house where Washington was born. In 1923 the Wakefield Memorial Association was created to preserve and restore the property. In 1931 this organization constructed the Memorial House on the plantation site, as a representation of the house in which Washington was born. The Memorial Mansion is constructed in a style and manner similar to other houses of the era with hand made bricks and period furniture. The National Park opened in 1932 to mark the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth.
A sign near the entrance to the national historic monument reads:
George Washington's Birthplace
George Washington's birthplace is two miles
north on Pope's Creek, just off the Potomac
River. He was born on 22 Feb. 1732 and lived
there only for three years. Washington's
father, Augustine, purchased the land in 1718 and
built the house by 1726.President Washington's
half-brother Augustine, Jr., inherited the
property after his father's death in 1743. The
dwelling, a U-shaped timber-frame house,
burned on Christmas Day 1779. The present
Memorial House, erected in 1930-31 is a Colonial
Revival-style version of a medium-size
planter's house. Originally known as Pope's
Creek, the property was renamed Wakefield
about 1770 by George Washington's half-
nephew William Augustine Washington.
Stratford Hall was home to four generations of Lees, including two signers of the Declaration of Independence, several diplomats, a Revolutionary War hero, and a Civil War hero, among numerous other distinguished members of the Lee family, one of the "First Families of Virginia."
Colonel Thomas Lee, who was once the acting Governor of Virginia under British rule, purchased the land for Stratford Hall in 1717 and began construction on the main "Great House" in 1730. Here he established a plantation, a dock on the Potomac, and numerous other businesses such as blacksmith shops and a gristmill.
Thomas Lee had eight children. The eldest son, Philip Ludwell Lee, Sr., was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, and he took over operations at Stratford Hall. The next two sons, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, were delegates to the Second Continental Congress and signers of the Declaration of Independence. Another child, Thomas Ludwell Lee, helped George Mason create the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Thomas Lee's later sons, William Lee and Dr. Arthur Lee, served as diplomats in England during the American Revolution. Hannah Lee is said to have been an early advocate of women's rights, and the youngest child, Alice Lee, married Philadelphia physician Dr. William Shippen, who is said to have started the first maternity hospital in America, and he was the Surgeon General of the Continental Army.
Philip Ludwell Lee, Sr. married Elizabeth Steptoe and had two daughters before his death. One of the daughters, named Matilda, married her cousin, future Revolutionary War hero Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee in 1782. Elizabeth Steptoe, a few years after her husband's death, married a gentleman named Philip Richard Fendall I. Light Horse Harry Lee worked out a bargain of a deal that he would take over Stratford Hall, and in exchange he's give Fendall and his wife property in Alexandria, Virginia, that eventually became the Lee-Fendall House.
Matilda and Light Horse Henry Lee had three children together before Matilda passed away in 1790. In 1793 Lee married again, this time to Anne Hill Carter, and the couple had six children. The most famous son, Robert E. Lee was born at Stratford Hall in 1807, but spent just four years here. In 1811 Henry Lee moved his family to a modest home in Alexandria, just across the street from the Lee Fendall House; this home is now called The Robert E. Lee Boyhood Home.
Harry and Matilda's surviving son, Robert E. Lee's half brother, Maj. Henry "Black Horse" Lee IV took over Stratford Hall in 1809. He was the last Lee to own the fine, historic plantation. It is said he had an affair with his wife's sister, named Elizabeth or Betsy, and the resulting lawsuits left him in financial ruin that forced him to sell Stratford Hall in 1822.
Henry "Black Horse" Lee's wife's sister, Elizabeth, with whom Henry had his affair, convinced her husband, Henry Storke, to purchase the plantation in 1829, and she remained there until her death in 1879.
In 1929, the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization, and the organization purchased Stratford Hall.
The Lee family is known as one of the First Families of Virginia, because the family's patriarch, Richard Lee I, immigrated from England to Jamestown in 1639, as one of the town's earliest settlers.
James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, was born 28 April 1758 in a rural area now known as Munroe Hall in Westmoreland County, Virgina, just a few miles from George Washington's Birthplace. His parents were certainly not aristocracy. Monroe's father, Spence Monroe (1727–1774) was a farmer and carpenter. His mother, Elizabeth Jones Monroe (1730–1774) married Spence Monroe in 1752, and they had five children, four of which lived to adulthood. Monroe lived at his father's farm until he was sixteen, and his childhood was spent learning to boat, fish, ride, and hunt.
From age 11 through his 16th birthday, Monroe studied nearby at the Campbelltown Academy, a school nearby his home in Westmoreland County. Among his classmates was John Marshall, later chief justice of the U.S.
In 1774, around the time his mother died, Monroe left Monroe Hall to go to the College of William and Mary. His father passed away shortly after he enrolled in the school. Monroe dropped out of college in 1775 to enlist in the Continental Army, where he served under George Washington in various battles including the crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas 1776 and the ensuing Battle of Trenton. Later he studied law under Thomas Jefferson, then he held numerous public offices including a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, a seat in the Continental Congress, Ambassador to France, Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State, and President of the United States from 1817 to 1825, a time known as the "Era of Good Feelings."
There are three different historical markers along the road at the entrance to the former Monroe estate. A traditional white plaque reads:
Birthplace of Monroe
In this vicinity stood the
Monroe home where James Monroe,
fifth president of the United
States, was born, April 28,
1758. His father was Spence
Monroe and his mother, Eliza-
beth Jones. He left home at
the age of sixteen to enter
William and Mary College and
left college to enter the army.
Virginia Conservation Commission 1947
A second sign, this one engraved on the bottom of a memorial obelisk reads:
April 28, 1758
July 4, 1831
Fifth president of the
Governor of Virginia
1799 and 1811
Proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine
December 2, 1823
Declares the Americas
no longer subject to
A third plaque stands on a square podium-like monument with the words on top and stars representing the states around the sides. The plaque reads:
1758 - 1831
Soldier * Patriot * Statesman
This marks the birthplace of James Monroe, April 28, 1758
Westmoreland County, Virginia
Attended college of William & Mary; Officer, Continental
Army, American Revolution; Married Elizabeth Kortright, 1786;
US Senator; Minister Plenipotentiary to France and then to
England; Represented the United States in Spain; Governor of
Virginia; Signed treaty of Louisiana Purchase; Negotiated to
acquire Florida; Secretary of State; Secretary of War; Fifth
U.S. President, 1817-1825; Promulgated Monroe Doctrine, 1823;
Died July 4, 1831, Buried Hollywood Cemetery; Richmond, VA.
Placed by the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution
April 24, 2004 Mary Jane Irwin Davis, State Regent
Presented 26 April 2008 by the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution
Bana Weems Caskey - State Regent 2007-2010
Patricia Hatfield Mayar - Honorary State Regent * State Regent 2004-2007
On July 09, we traveled to Washington, D.C. for a day and had a touristic bash there. It was a day of tourism for historic resources for us.
We visited Iwo Jima Statue (the most recallable of images in the books), Arlington National Cemetery (covered extensively in an issue of National Geographic last year), Pentagon City Mall (where we had our lunch and a shopping spree), United State Capitol, Botanical Gardens, Supreme Court of the United States, The Washington Monument, World War 2 Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial, and took a glimpse of many other sites.
On that day, it was hot like crazy. We were all perspiring profusely. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see so many tourists at all the sites. Washington is definitely a touristic hotspot now with hundreds and thousands of tourists at any given monument.
The total driving distance from Massanutten to Washington D.C. was about 2 hours. From I 81, we took east exit for I 66. I 66 passed through the town of Front Royal, which is located at the northern entrance of Shenandoah National Park.
The Skyline Drive is part of the Shenandoah National Park system in western Virginia. The park runs the full north-south length of Virginia extending down into Waynesboro, NC. I entered at the north entrance. Easiest way to get to the park from points east:
Take route 66 heading west
Exit at the Front Royal exit for 340.
Follow 340 south for about three miles.
Watch for the very small sign to your right and be prepared to turn left!
I hope in another 2 weeks the park will start looking different!
Car: Day+a week $15.00
Motorcycle and hikers: $10.00
Since I plan to viist the park sevel times a year, I purchased an annual pass for $80. This annuls pass allows me entry into any national park system in the US.
This is what I found on 18 April 2008:
Trees bare half way up to the top of the mountains
No ground plants visible
Some flowering bushes
I do not know why the plants and trees are so late in growing this year. Is it because VA is still in a drought situation? Watch for my updates in two weeks from now!
Udvar-Hazy is the extension to the Air and Space Museum located in DC. Udvar-Hazy is located about 20 miles outside of DC adjoining Dulles International Airport. If you are an aerospace nut like me, then check it out. Conviently located if you have a couple hour lay over at Dulles.
Kilmarnock was originally called The Crossroads in 1664 because multiple thoroughfares crossed through there. The original crossroads is believed to be the intersection of present-day routes 3 and 200. By the mid 18th Century, it was called Steptoe's Ordinary for storehouse and tavern owner William Steptoe. In 1775, it was renamed Kilmarnock after the town in Scotland. By the 1850s it became the educational centre with the Kilmarnock Seminary and the Female Seminary. It was destroyed by fires in 1909, 1915, and 1952 but rebuilt each time.
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In the early 20th Century, the town of Reedville was pretty well isolated from the urban areas of Richmond and Tidewater. Despite that isolation, Reedville was thought to be the richest little town in America. The reason for both the isolation and affluence was the water. A small fish called menhaden made the town so rich. Menhaden aren't good eating fish, but rather they are used as protein in pet foods and livestock feeds. As the menhaden industry grew, its profits sustained most of its citizens and a seagoing tradition that still endures to this day. Outsiders may turn up their nose at the smell of the menhaden processing plant, but locals see it as the sweet smell of success.
Reedville was settled by a Elijah Reed, a fisherman from the coast of Maine who envisaged menhaden processing operations which had thrived up north. While many Southern towns were suffering during Reconstruction, Reedville had just begun to prosper. Its links with urban markets were not over land, but rather over water. See, Reedville was round about the midpoint between Baltimore and Norfolk. Steamboats would pick up goods to be sold in the cities and drop off merchandise for the local shops. There used to be four grocery stores operating in Reedville.
Today, Reedville is still one of the busiest fishing ports and menhaden is still the main fish. During its heyday, there were 50 menhaden processing plants. Now there is only one with 13 oceangoing ships. Besides menhaden, crab potters and oystermen help keep the community going. Tourism is also a major factor in the local economy. Not only that, people either retire to here or have a holiday home on the water to get away from the daily rush of urban life. Visitors who stroll along Main Street get to see the Victorian homes the sea captains and industry bosses built during the days of high prosperity. The thing that sets Reedville apart from many other historic towns is much of the history is still alive.
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At the entrance of the George Washington Birthplace National Monument, you will see a one-tenth scale replica of the Washington Monument in D.C.
This is yet another tobacco plantation on the Potomac, where the first president of the United States was born in 1732. The original house burned down in 1779. The foundations of the original house were excavated in 1936, then re-buried for preservation. Their ghostly location is outlined with crushed oyster shells. Nearby, a memorial house was built in 1930. It is not a replica of the original but the reconstitution of a typical prosperous house of the time, accurate in the detail.
In addition to the guided visit of the house, there is a beautiful trail, various farming buildings, several gardens, and a visitors' center.
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