History at Sunset

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park presents a series of special “History at Sunset” programs. These ranger-conducted presentations cover a variety of subjects and provide visitors an opportunity to see sites normally not open, or widely accessible, to the general public.

Explore and learn about some of the “hidden gems” of the park and the Shenandoah Valley. Each program is free and lasts between 90 minutes to two hours.

“A great deal of labor was…expended in building breastworks….”
Exploring the Civil War Entrenchments at Cedar Creek
Some of the most well preserved original Civil War entrenchments in the Shenandoah Valley are located on the bluffs above Cedar Creek. Join Park Ranger Jeff Driscoll for a special walking tour that explores both the construction of these field fortifications and their role during the Battle of Cedar Creek. Preserved by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation and Belle Grove, these earthworks are the focal point of a newly expanded walking trail in the park. Meet at the Visitor Contact Station (7712 Main Street, Middletown, VA 22645). Visitors will then car-pool to another site closer to the entrenchments.

Talk on the Archaeology at Belle Grove Enslaved Quarter Site

Matthew Greer, a PhD candidate at Syracuse University will conduct a free talk about his archaeological research in the area where the enslaved men, women, and children owned by the Hite family at Belle Grove lived and worked. Since 2015, Mr. Greer has conducted archaeology of the 1.5-acre site located across Belle Grove Road from the main visitor parking lot. He has confirmed it was inhabited between about 1800 and 1850, that it likely was the home of many of the enslaved at Belle Grove, and that the site included a livestock barn and farm equipment shed. To date, more than 44,000 artifacts have been recovered at this site. The artifacts provide information on how the homes were constructed, how they were situated on the landscape, and what daily life was like for the enslaved at Belle Grove.

This program will follow a free Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Ranger Program about Judah, one of the enslaved cooks at Belle Grove. Read more here: https://bellegrove.org/calendar/judah

Middletown Walking Tour

Join Ranger Shannon Moeck on this 90 minute walking tour of historic Middletown. Through the war years, Middletown found itself caught between the lines of opposing armies. The town’s population of approximately 440 residents, including a small free black population of 19, experienced much of the war as a border community. This tour will discuss firsthand accounts of the residents who were greatly impacted by the seemingly endless conflict.

Meet at the corner of 1st and Main Streets in Middletown, VA 22645.

Garden Fest

Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Assocation’s annual Garden Fest at Belle Grove will be Saturday, June 1, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. with free admission and free parking.

It will include:

MASTER GARDENER Plant Sale
Hands-On Workshops,
Garden and Specialty Vendors,
Children’s Activities,
Second Hand Rose Rummage Sale,
Birdhouse Contest
Garden Tool Sharpening,
Touring of the Historic Belle Grove Manor House 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. ($5 for those 12 and older, 11 and younger free of charge)
Raffles, Food, And More . . .

More Information

Twilight Hike

While Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park was specifically established in 2002 to preserve and interpret the area’s cultural history, the Shenandoah Valley is rich in natural features, wildlife, and vegetation, including wildflowers.These twilight hikes, offered on May 25th (6:30 p.m.) and September 28th (5:00 p.m.) will not only explore the natural side of the park, but also discuss and practice the basics of hiking and backpacking, along with the equipment usage techniques of these hobbies.

Both programs will be led by Ranger Rick Ashbacker and begin at the Claven Lane parking area (2262 Claven Lane, Middletown, Virginia), the back entrance to the park’s “Morning Attack Trails” trails system, which includes the 8th Vermont monument. Each walk will last approximately 90 minutes, over moderate terrain. Proper walking shoes and water are recommended.