Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Stonewall Jackson Winchester Headquarters

Beginning with this post, I'm starting a series of posts about Frederick County and Winchester, VA. This is the first installment of this series. To see others in this series, click on the label "Winchester and Frederick County" below this post.

Between November 1861 and March 1862, Confederate Major General Thomas J. Jackson -- more famously known as Stonewall Jackson -- kept his headquarters in Winchester, VA, in a lovely and comfortable home on North Braddock Street.

The house, other than a few additions that you wouldn't even know aren't original to the house, reflects the way it looked when Stonewall Jackson was there. Many of his belongings are there. In fact, the house is full of items that have little stories attached to them.

Jackson's office, pretty much decorated with original pieces as it was while he stayed there. His field desk is in the corner.

The Stonewall Jackson Headquarters, or the Tilghman Moore House, is home to the largest collection of Jackson memorabilia that exists, as well as personal objects from members of his staff. The museum displays Jackson’s personal prayer table, initialed prayer book, sword and scabbard, and many other Jackson family artifacts. Touring it, you start to get to know Jackson, the man, rather than just Jackson, the Confederate General who fought against the United States in the Civil War.

Whether you're a fan of Stonewall Jackson or not, the house itself is worth a visit, simply because it's a very cool old house -- I am fascinated by middle-class Victorian homes. The Hudson River Gothic Revival style house was built in 1854 by local dentist William Fuller, who sold it four years before the Civil War began to Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Tilghman Moore, commander of the 31st Virginia Militia. Later, Moore offered his home to serve as Jackson's headquarters.

From this house, Jackson planned his Shenandoah Valley defenses and campaigns, starting with the Romney Expedition. The Jacksons lived in the house until March 1862, when the general left Winchester to begin his Valley Campaign. In those few short months, he became much beloved by the townsfolk.

The bathstand and mirror Jackson used while at the house.
In the 1960s, the home was purchased and converted into a museum by its new owner, who was a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She helped collect many of the possessions and artifacts belonging to Jackson and created what sometimes feels like a shrine to his memory.

Whether you're a serious student of the Civil War or just a passing tourist, this house is well worth an hour or two of your time.

Interesting note: One of Colonel Moore's descendants was the actress Mary Tyler Moore, who helped pay for the restoration of the home to become a museum, including replica wallpaper matching the original.
Jackson marveled at this wallpaper, even writing to his wife Anna about it.
Getting there: 415 North Braddock Street, Winchester, VA 22601

Hours: Open April 1 to October 31. Hours: Monday thru Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Sunday 12 - 4 p.m.

Website: http://oldtownwinchesterva.com/business-directory/attractions-museums/stonewall-jacksons-headquarters-museum/

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Adams County (PA) Photo Safari

This is the first of periodic "photo safaris" of places the Blog has visited! I hope you enjoy this vicarious visit to Gettysburg and Adams County, PA!

An historic car show at one of the annuaal Apple Harvest Festivals.

The backyard of the Shriver House Museum.

Many Gettysburg houses still bear the scars of the famous Civil War battle!

Biking or driving through the battlefields offer lovely vistas.

Photographed while biking through the battlefields.

Sachs Covered Bridge is both beautiful and eerie at sunset in the winter.

Halbrendts Winery collaborates with Paint.Local.Social to offer plein air panting to everyone, regardless of talent (even I did it!). This lovely vine-covered slope at the winery is one of the subjects of the plein air painting events.

Sachs Covered Bridge is lovely anytime of the day or year!

Ike Eisenhower raised Angus cattle on his farm in Gettysburg, and was partly responsible for raising the popularity of Angus beef.

Travel the highways and byways of Adams County, and you may run across an elephant statue!

Lovely bearded iris lurk in many Adams County yards!
Adams County, PA is known as the Apple Capital of the World!

A view of South Mountain from the Eisenhower Farm.

Come for the battlefields, but definitely stay for dinner! Tasty fennel and broccolini pizza
can be found at Food101 in downtown Gettysburg!

Tempting fresh fruit and vegetables await you at the farmers market on Lincoln square each Friday and Saturday!

A flight of hard cider at Hauzers Estate Winery and Cidery.

It's easy to spend an hour checking out all the goodies at Hollabaugh Orchard farmers market!

Mason Dixon Distillery offers a different kind of spirits in downtown Gettysburg!

The round barn is one of the prettiest barns in Adams County, and is being preserved both as a wedding venue
 and as the aptly named Round Barn Market.

An old air pump still hangs on the side of a barn.

Downtown Gettysburg is filled with cool shops,
boutiques, and great places to grab a cup of joe.
Gettysburg and Adams County is filled with lovely bed & breakfast inns that are both picturesque and comfortable.
Bonus: some are even haunted (but not the one pictured above!).

For other day trip destinations in and around Adams County, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip or click on the Gettysburg or Destination Gettysburg label below.

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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tunnel of Green: Appalachian Trail to Weverton Cliffs

The hike from Gathland State Park to Weverton Cliffs is a lovely walk in the woods, and is an ideal day hike that provides a taste of what through-hiking the Appalachian Trail is like. Plus, you're likely to encounter some AT through-hikers, and they're always interesting to chat with.

The plan for the hike was for my friend and I to drive separately there. We met at the Weverton Cliffs parking lot (getting there early, since it tends to fill up). Then we traveled together to Gathland State Park, where I left my vehicle. We picked up the AT at Gathland, heading south for the 6-mile (for the record, my fitbit claimed a total of 9 miles...) mostly level hike down to Weverton Cliffs. From the cliffs, we descended down to the parking lot, picked up his vehicle, and drove back up to Gathland.

While we were at Gathland State Park, we took a few minutes to explore it, look at the War Correspondents Memorial, and appreciate a little of the history of the place. Gathland State Park was once the mountain home of George Alfred Townsend, a Civil War journalist. In the late 1800's, Gathland featured a unique collection of buildings and structures designed and constructed by Townsend. The War Correspondents Arch is a National historic monument. Constructed in 1896, the monument stands fifty feet high.

Gathland State Park is also known as Crampton Gap, and was the site of a September 1862 engagement that was one of several known collectively as the battle of South Mountain that led up to the more famous battle at Antietam.

The hike took us, going at a slow to moderate pace, about 4 hours. Although not strenuous, picking our way through a very rocky trail was slow going at times, especially since the remains of Hurricane Harvey had dumped an inch of rain on us the day previously, and the trail and rocks were wet and slippery.
Most of the trail was rocky like this.
Although we missed the hard climb UP to the cliffs from the Weverton Cliffs Parking lot by going south on the AT from Gathland, there were ascents that left me breathless a few times, but it always leveled out at just the right moment, allowing us to catch our breath and ease our leg muscles. My fitbit claimed I'd climbed 89 flights... It goes up and down, but never steeply. You basically hike along the ridge of South Mountain, occasionally there promises to be a view on the right, but leafed out trees obscure any view -- it must be lovely in the winter, though. It was like walking through a tunnel of green, and that was good enough for a cool, last day of summer!

Whenever you're climbing over rocks, be alert for snakes. At the cliffs, we encountered a nest of rattlers.

You pass by the Garvey Shelter, which offers a privy and benches to rest. You don't see any historic sights or anything terribly of interest, until you come to the cliffs themselves, and they are awesome.

Alternatively, you can hike up to Weverton Cliffs with just a short, 2-mile long there and back by parking at Weverton Cliffs and picking up the AT trail head (going north) there. But doing it this way means an initial strenuous climb of about 500 feet in a mile-long series of 10 switchbacks. At the top of the hill, at the end of the switchbacks, you come to a T intersection. Turn hard right (signs to the cliffs were missing the day we were there) and follow the blue blazes maybe 1/3 of a mile downhill to the cliffs. Then stand in awe at the beauty.

Know before you go: you can skip the sunblock, because you're hiking in deep shade the entire length. You will want hiking shoes or boots with ankle support, and a hiking stick or trek pole -- the trail is frequently just bed rock, and it gets hard on  your feet after awhile. Also remember: the AT is blazed white, with light blue blazes signaling trails to shelters, springs, or interesting side hikes, including the cliffs themselves.

Getting there: Googlemaps easily found Weverton Cliffs parking lot. Gathland State Park is located in Washington and Frederick Counties, 1 mile west of Burkittsville, off MD Route 17. The parking lot is at 900 Arnoldstown Road, Jefferson MD 21755.

Websites: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/western/gathland.aspx

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Photo Safari at Gunston Hall

Janice, Danielle, and Rachel greeted us at the door.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I went on a second Washington Photo Safari, and it was amazing -- I learned so much. The jaunt was led by David Luria, a professional photographer, who focused on getting us away from using the "automagic" setting on our cameras and to use the equipment (lenses, filters, etc.) we had.

I took this photo without the correct filter on.
There was a group of eight of us -- some of us had been on photo safaris before, but it was an amiable group. Originally, I feared that the others would be a bit snobbish about their cameras or their greater abilities, but everyone was friendly and helpful -- I learned almost as much from the others in the group as I did from Luria.

I used my polarizing filter for this shot -- notice the sky is bluer, without the benefit of photoshop.
I've only been using about $100 worth of my very expensive (at the time we bought it) NIKON D90, and I've always felt that any good photos I got were really accidents. My theory is that if I take enough photos, there's bound to be a few good ones!

Luria forced me into manual setting, and so I actually had to apply aperture and F stops and ISO and white balance and all that scary stuff. He also showed me how to use some of my camera's user-friendly features that I had steadfastly ignored over the years. I fell in love with my camera all over again!

All this was set at Gunston Hall, as our inspiration and back drop. Gunston Hall was built in 1758 by George Mason, sometimes referred to as one of our "forgotten founding fathers." Few men have had more lasting impact than George Mason, the retiring Fairfax County planter who served a mentor to George Washington and influenced a generation of Virginia revolutionaries.

Detail from the carvings along the stairwell.

Mason drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights and Virginia's State Constitution, and also provided leadership on Virginia's Committee of Safety during the Revolutionary War. Mason's primary concerns about government, both Virginia's and the new nation's, were aimed at preserving the rights and liberties of individuals above all else. While he wanted a strong nation, he feared giving the government too much power, and for this reason, had become a strict constructionist of the Articles of Confederation. Once again, Mason put on his politician's hat, and he set off for Philadelphia in Spring 1787, where the delegates would "obtain and preserve the important objects for which [the Articles of Confederation] was instituted--the protection Safety & Happiness of the People."

Throughout the Convention's proceedings, Mason participated fully in the deliberations that gradually created the Constitution, making no fewer than 136 speeches on the convention floor. As the hot summer dragged on, he became increasingly alarmed over several aspects of the new government. While he agreed that the government was not functioning effectively under the Articles of Confederation, he wanted to prevent it from having too much power. He believed they could do this by placing most of the powers of government in the House of Representatives, which would be directly elected by the people.

Detail from the center hallway.
At the time, Gunston Hall truly was the best house in the neighborhood. Built in the Georgian style, the home is a "center hall colonial" where symmetry is paramount.

A lot of my photos from the day trip are too dark, or too light, or blurry b/c the shutter speed was all wrong... beginner mistakes!

But I did get a few fun photos -- plus we had three re-enactors who patiently and graciously allowed us to use them as models throughout the afternoon.

One of the second floor bedrooms.

Getting there: 10709 Gunston Road, Lorton, VA

Hours: Check the Washington Photography Safari's website for dates and times of the photo safaris. Gunston Hall is open and the Museum are open 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily; grounds close at 6 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Websites: http://www.gunstonhall.org/ and

For other day trip destinations, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip!

If you enjoy this blog, please tell your friends about it!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger!