Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Stroll Back in Time--Stafford

I serve on the Regional Board (R-Board) that oversees recycling and the regional landfills for the City of Fredericksburg and Stafford County. In the process of planning for new cells for a landfill remains of Civil War entrenchments and encampments, along with pre-Civil War sites, were discovered. Archeological work was done to document these sites and it was subsequently decided by the board to preserve them. Stafford County is now in the process of turning this area into a park.

I took a day to go on site and get down and dirty, in a literal sense, and assisted (we are the government and we are here to help) in the archeological survey. These photos were taken prior to putting my camera aside and picking up the trowel and shovel.
For the Sinews of War
During the Civil War this road carried troops, supply wagons, and artillery, for the Army of the Potomac. Ensuring the supply of food and equiment for over 100,000 men.

History to be Discovered
At the time of the Civil War this photo would have documented a sea of tents as opposed to trees. It was the site of a Union Army winter encampment. The red flags mark "hits" after a sweep with a metal detector. Numerous items are about to be uncovered which would document camp life during the Civil War.

Remains of War
This is thought to be the impression of a blockhouse built during the Civil War. In this area are also located the remains of three earthen forts; which along with this blockhouse, were built to protect the Union Armies supply line.

History Uncovered
A piece of history exposed to sunlight. A section of courduroy road (logs placed perpendicular to the direction of the road for a more firm base for travel) laid down by Union Soldiers almost 150 years ago.

Once a Road Well Traveled
If you look closely at the ground you can see the outlines of the Old Potomac Church Road. In its day it was used by area farmers, to support a sandstone quarry, and to supply Union troops who occupied the area during the Civil War

A Bridge No More
To the right is the remains of the stone bridge abutment where the Old Potomac Church Road crossed Accokeek Creek.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Speaking of Railroads—Fredericksburg

Rain and cancelled appointments have kept me off the road so we go back to the archives. As I have received a number of compliments on the header photo I’m posting some other photos taken during the hike when it was taken.....

During the era of the iron horse not all railroads were a rousing success. The line running from Fredericksburg to Orange is a case in point. Begun just after the Civil War the railroad went through three foreclosures before being abandoned in 1938. During its third and final reorganization in 1926 the line became know as the Virginia Central Railroad.

Today remains of the rail bed still extend from King George County (At one point it was though by extending the line it would become more profitable. This section was never built.) thru Fredericksburg and out to Orange. Plans are moving forward in the city to used the bed as part of our trails system. These photos were taken during the trail planning process.

Our Stroll Begins
Looking down the rail bed where it begins-- at Alum Springs Park. Not a view you would expect to see within the city limits.

One Generation to the Next.
The remains of a railroad bridge. Structures like these will be used again to support bridges for pedestrian use.

Hazel Run
Looking down from the trail at Hazel Run. Development pressures, such as run-off, is causing erosion problems, water quality issues etc. Efforts are being made by groups like the Friends of the Rappahannock to protect views like this for future generations.

Some of Our Neighbors
Evidence of some of the local natives of the area.

A Boy and His Toys.....
Right behind me is the Rt 1 and civilization. Sorry, couldn't resist playing with the photo program on the computer again.

Monday, May 25, 2009

From the Archives— Locks & Dams on the Rappahannock River

Today the Rappahannock River is one of the longest free flowing river on the east coast. Over a hundred and sixty years ago this was not the case. Between 1816 and 1849 twenty-two wooden locks, twenty-five stone locks, twenty dams, and 15 miles of canal were built on the river between the City of Fredericksburg and Fauquier County to facilitate trade. The effort nearly bankrupted the city and by the 1850s the project was doomed by the advent of the railroad.

What follow are photos of what remains of this thirty-three year effort one hundred and sixty years later……….

What Remains
All that is left of this effort are the decaying and over grown remains of the lock and canal system and metal spikes marking the outline of wooden dams which once spanned the river.

A Bygone Era
Over 160 years ago flat-bottomed wooden batteauxs 65 feet long and almost 10 feet wide carrying corn, wheat, wool, iron, lumber, and whisky would be seen on this section of canal on the Stafford side of the river.

Slow but Steady........
It took only about 33 years to build the locks and dams that made up the Rappahannock River navigation system. 160 years later mother nature is continuing to erase the evidence of that effort.

Small Remnant
When and who hammered this spike in place to begin the construction of a dam? Another story waiting to be told.

Stone Lock
One of the twenty-five stone locks built between Fredericksburg and Fauquier County.

The Stone Quarry
The path along the river eventually leads to the old quarry site which over time has become a rather deep lake which has claimed some lives. The reflection of the stone cliff on the water presents and interesting perspective. This is one of my favorite photos.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Cost—Culpeper National Cemetery

“Oh you of a younger generation, think what it cost your forefathers to save our glorious inheritance of Union and liberty! If you let it slip through your hands you will deserve to be branded as ungrateful cowards and undutiful sons.”

Father William Corby

On Memorial Day we not only honor those who gave their lives to protect our freedom and way of life; but also to rededicate ourselves to ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain. Each of us, no matter our station in life, has an obligation to ensure that those freedoms that they fought for, and we enjoy, are passed on to the next generation. Through our efforts, both great and small, we not only honor the memory of the fallen; but also instill in our children the understanding that our freedom cannot be taken for granted. The examples we set will determine whether we will remain a free and open society.

Culpeper--A Place to Remember
Tucked away from the daily bustle on the other side of the railroad tracks sandwiched between town homes, houses and decaying industrial structures sits a National Cemetery.

Sacrifice Remembered
In the background is a monument to the soldiers from Pennsylvania buried here. In the foreground is a monument to the fallen of the 28th New York Vol. Infantry. Remembered by their comrades and by those left behind.

Section "C"
While every space within the confines of the walls are filled with headstones, sections "C" and "D" have none. While there are no markers here this ground is the final resting place for over 900 Union soldiers. They had been killed at Brandy Station, Gordonsville, and Trevillian Station and hastily buried where they fell. Later their remains were moved to the cemetery and buried in these two sections. Because, like so many others, their remains could not be identified no markers were placed here.

A Stone-A Story
Lewis D. Moores was from Monroe Co., Michigan. When he enlisted in Co. A, 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in spring of 1862 he was 18 years old. He participated is some of the most horrendous fighting of the Civil War at Brawner Farm and Gettysburg. He died on April 14, 1864. At the time his regiment was camped around Culpeper. The fact that he has a marker probably meant he died of disease instead of on the battlefield-- A long way from home.

The New Section
The cemetery has expanded well beyond the confines of the original wall. On these grave stones we see etched World War II, Korea, Vietnam. The generations before us sacrificed much for us. What legacy will we leave to the generations that come after us?

Remington & Brandy Station—Off the Beaten Path.

“I hate small towns because once you have seen the cannon in the park there is nothing else to do.”

Lenny Bruce

Driving down Rt. 29 between Rt. 17 and Rt. 3 is pretty monotonous unless you heed those little signs that take you off Rt. 29. to those small towns that were by-passed when the road was built.

During the Civil War Brandy Station was the site of the largest cavalry battle in the United States. Due to the railroad and its proximity to Kelly’s Ford on the Rappahannock
River Remington also saw quite a bit of action during the war. Strange that I didn’t find any cannons in parks. In my search for them, which will be continued another day, I did find other scenes of interest…..

Brandy Station--Freddy Krueger's Summer Home
Come on! You can't tell me this wouldn't make a great set for a teen slasher movie. This house is so over grown you can barely see it from the small road that runs right in front of it.

Brandy Station--Out of Sight. Out of Mind
This beautiful old building almost backs up to Rt. 29 but you wouldn't see it unless you took a small (for the boss) detour.

Brandy Station--This is Old Virginia
A train crossing and a country store all in one photo! Who could ask for more. However, no parks or cannons to be seen...........

Brandy Station--What is That?
One of the few glimpses of Brandy Station you get from Rt. 29 is a view of this steeple over the trees. This building is begging to be researched. But again that is for another day.
Remington--Main Street
Looking up Main Street from the tracks. No parks or cannons to be seen. The search continues......

Remington Rail Line
Looking north up the line. Remington is no longer a train stop and the buildings that serviced trains and passengers are abandoned or have been converted to other uses such as office space as in the case with the station itself. Time marches on........

Leaving Town
Leaving Remington through the back way crossing the Rappahannock River. The rail road bridge is a few hundred yards to the right. That is a photo for another day....

Culpeper--A rear view
Culpeper is a bit off topic but it is on the Rt. 29 corridor and I saw another computer enhancement moment.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Unionville, Orange and Mine Run— A New Perspective

“Science and art have that in common that everyday things seem to them new and attractive.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

My travels took me up Rt. 20 to Unionville and Orange. On the way back I took a shortcut down Rt. 621 through Mine Run. Today I decided to put Nietzsche to the test taking photos of scenes that most take for granted, if they notice them at all, and ran them through my photo program to see if we can make the commonplace, “new and attractive.”

Orange-Out With the Old
As you come into Orange on Rt. 20 there is a beautiful sign welcoming you to the town. When you make the left to come into old town Orange glance off to the right as you come up the hill and you will see the original welcome sign at the edge of a parking lot.

Unionville--"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign..."
Pointing the way from sin to redemption-gambling, gluttony, then gas up the car and go to church of your choice.

Somewhere on Rt. 20
I'm a frequent traveler on Rt. 20 and today was the first time I noticed this sign. Joe Stanley played soccer for Orange High School. He was a junior when he died.

Glory Days.......
This brought back memories of my first little league team in Park Ridge, NJ. The baggy wool pants and shirt. We were sponsored by the local funeral home. I played first base. The familiar refrain from the other team was, “we’re going to bury you.” And they usually did-- by at least 10 runs.

Mine Run Market & Deli
The quintessential small town market in rural Virginia. Inside most you can still find Moon Pies, pigs feet, pork rinds, and Nehi grape soda (my personal favorite).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Deep Run “Death March”—Stafford, VA 2006

“From now on, you will march until you drop, and when you have dropped, you will crawl. Some may consider that I am excessively cruel, but there is a reason for this cruelty: I enjoy it!”
Sgt. Markov
Beau Geste (1939)

In 2006 I had the privilege of casting one of the votes that placed over 4000 acres along 20 plus miles of the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers into a permanent conservation easement. As part of that effort a baseline survey was done on these lands. I accompanied representatives from Fredericksburg, the Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries in surveying Deep Run, a tributary Rappahannock starting at the Rt. 17 Bridge to the river--a distance of just under 5 miles.

There are no trails along Deep Run so most of the time we were in the water or traversing the steep banks and heavy woods along the banks. Most of the team were in there 40s and were a few pounds over our optimum weights. I have not posted photos of the team during or after the survey and will let the title of this post stir your imagination. I would not have missed this for the world.

The Beginning--Deep Run at the Rt. 17 Bridge
Sometimes it is hard to believe that this photo was taken in the 4th largest and fastest growing region in Virginia. Its nice to know that my grandchildren will have the opportunity to enjoy this view and those that follow.

A Typical View of Deep Run
I'll just be quite and let you take it in.

The Change
Coming around a bend in Deep Run the terrain and trees just change to evergreens and steep stone embankments.

Some of the Locals
This was the only time I saw these flowers during the entire trip down Deep Run. If anyone knows what they are please drop me a line.

Natural Development
This was definitely beaver country. We ran into a number of beaver dams like this one. The trips around these resulted in twisted ankles, bruised knees and elbows, and occasional immersion. If one of these cute woodland creatures had shown themselves it would not have been pretty.

"I Knew We Should Have Asked For Directions at the Gas Station!"
How this got here was a bit of a mystery. There are no roads leading to Deep Run and with difficult terrain in and along the run it would have been difficult to ride through it. Not only were the plates removed but so were the VIN number on the dash and engine housing. Noting to indicate it was from Jersey.

The End--Deep Run at the Rappahannock River
Sometimes it is best to let the photos speak for itself.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Stroll Off Main Street--Culpeper

Today my travels took me to Culpeper County. Usually, I just take a right off of Rt. 3 onto Main Street just outside of old town Culpeper and drive through taking either a left onto Rt. 522 or going straight to Rt. 229. This afternoon I took a few minutes to see what lurked around Main Street......

Old Town Culpeper
I've lived in Fredericksburg for over 30-years but it was only a few years ago that a friend of mine told me that there was a different world above eye level. The next time you find yourself strolling down an old downtown street take a moment to look up. You will see a real richness and diversity of architecture, texture and color.

The Courthouse--One Block Off Main Street

This is the old Culpeper courthouse. It has been added on to and this is now the rear entrance. Today, in Fredericksburg, as in other localities, we are faced with building large court facilities which house multiple courtrooms, require sally ports, secured space for judges and employees, limited access, and be able to withstand a car bomb. Don't think our new court complex will look as nice.

Take A Moment For A Chat
For those who are afflicted with being focused only on getting from point "A" to point "B" as quickly as possible here is an opportunity to take your first steps down the road to recovery. Walk by this mannequin a few time--who looks like your grandmother-- and stop to comment on the weather or pass a pleasantry or two. Do it a few times and you will find that your world will not come crashing down around you and you may also improve your social skills.

The Guardian?
Another reason to slowdown, let your mind wander a bit, and look up. Your homework assignment: The next time your in Culpeper see if you can locate our friend here.

Brick Wall--Main Street
Note the slightly uneven lines of the brick. Every eighth course is turned around to tie the finished wall together with the brick wall behind. This is a real brick wall--not veneer. Bricklaying today is much more uniform and precise. I like this better.

The Old Theater--Main Street
Over a decade ago I actually had a claim on this building when it was still operating. A section of suspended ceiling had collapsed due to construction near by. Just one big theater with old seating and a sticky floor. Even that long ago it had seen better days. But it still had character....

The New Theater--Main Street
Just up one block up and across the street sits the new movie theater. No doubt it is air conditioned, has more seating, better sound and bigger screens. It also has (4) theaters. But it lacks character and seems out of place. Functionality trumps character.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spotsylvania Courthouse

Over the past two years I have spent a lot of time in Lousia County. It would seem that the area is a magnet for storms. I usually take the 208 by-pass to get there but today I took a small detour (just a small one boss). My intent was to finally take a photo of a small store on Massaponax Church Road which had a sign on it that said something like "J. Finney(?) and Daughter." Well it's now a consignment store.

H. F. Chewning store is in the middle of Spotsylvania Courthouse surrounded by new construction. Thought I'd take a picture not knowing how much longer before it too is only a memory.