In the coming years, the Valley Pike will add a new distinction to its long history by becoming part of a new trail system in northern Shenandoah County connecting the Fisher’s Hill battlefield with the town of Strasburg and the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park.
Even before the ShenDownload (optional)andoah Valley was settled by Europeans, the Valley Pike—once a footpath, then a wagon road and a turnpike, and now US 11—was a vital transportation route for the people moving through the region. Running northeast to southwest along the Valley’s floor, it carried new settlers to the western areas of the Virginia colony. Union and Confederate armies moved along it during the Civil War as did tourists and commerce throughout the 20th century.
The largest non-land acquisition project managed by the Battlefields Foundation so far, the $1.9 million effort is funded in part by transportation enhancement grants and will connect properties that have been preserved using federal, state, local, and private funds. The initial phase of the project will improve parking, interpretation, and trail access on the Foundation’s “Ramseur’s Hill” property west of Interstate 81.
Ultimately, the project will not only link areas of the battlefield to one another, it will connect key elements of the community to one another: the battlefield, the town, the national park. It will offer visitors and residents increased recreational opportunities, and by interpreting the area’s Civil War history it will support the region’s tourism economy and educate visitors about the role of the Shenandoah Valley in this important part of American history. Finally, the project supports the preservation of the surrounding farmland, contributing to the Valley’s agricultural economy and improving water quality in Tumbling Run, which runs through the Fisher’s Hill battlefield and flows into the Shenandoah River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
Providing technical assistance for the project is an advisory committee comprised of individuals from Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation Department, the National Park Service, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, and the Strasburg Town Council. To coordinate the public planning process for the project’s master plan, the Battlefields Foundation has hired Hill Studio, a Roanoke firm of architects, landscape architects, and planners, with expertise in community planning, town and urban design, housing, master planning, and historic preservation.
A steering committee for the project – including landowners from throughout the project area, representatives of potential user groups (bicyclists, hikers), local preservation organizations, and the town and the county – has been guiding decision-making about the trail’s location and design.
John D. Hutchinson V, AICP
SVBF Director of Conservation