The Scenic and Historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
Visit the Valley
The Euphrates Valley: Shenandoah



September 6, 1716, John Fontaine

“We crossed this river which we [named]… I got some grass hoppers and fished. And another and I ‘catched’ a dish of fish… The others went a hunting and killed deer and ‘turkies...’ The highest of the mountains we named Mount George, and the one we awed over Mount Spotswood.”

John Fontaine and his leader, Governor Alexander Spotswood, believed they were the first Europeans to see this great valley, its river, and the bordering Blue Ridge Mountains. Little did they know their 1716 expedition had been preceded by at least 47 years, and the names of the river and mountain peaks they christened would be forgotten.

In 1710 Spotswood was appointed Her Majesty's Lt. Governor, and Commander in Chief of the Colony of Virginia. We often hear Spotswood titled “Royal” Governor, but these officials almost all stayed in England during the Colonial period, not wishing to suffer the rigors of life in the New World’s “backwater wilderness.” However, Spotswood thrived in Virginia and its small, but beautiful capital- Williamsburg.

Alexander had been an adventurous military man in England and served under the Duke of Marlborough. As with many men who rose in stature, he met the “right people” and eventually found himself in Virginia, commissioned as England’s “on-site Royal Governor.”

One hundred years after Jamestown’s settlement, Virginians still lived within a hundred miles of the Atlantic Coast while areas to the west remained unexplored. Hostile Indians and thick, impenetrable forests made it risky to live, or even explore, far from eastern settlements.

Spotswood wanted to develop those western lands and possibly compete for the rich fur trade that Frenchmen had established. In 1716 he decided to take matters into his own hands and lead the first great western expedition.


[Article originally appeared on during October, 2007.]

It’s Summertime in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley!
May Flowers

Hiking on Blue Ridge Mountain trails, canoeing and kayaking on the Shenandoah, catch an outdoor concert or sip Virginia wine or craft beer at a huge variety of festivals. Shenandoah is the place to be in the Summer!

  Happening today

Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

10 S. Market St. Antony and Cleopatra TalkBack discussion session follows performance. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit

Summer Restaurant Week in Lexington, Va.

Downtown. July 26 to Aug. 1 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Local Restaurants and Retail Shops offer meal specials and special sales.For more information, call 540-319-4181.

Movies on the Mall in Winchester, Va.

Loudoun St. Mall, in front of the 1840 Courthouse. Old Town Court House lawn. Movies on the mall, family friendly event. Start at dusk, approximately 8:45 p.m. Bring a blanket or chair. Food available at nearby restaurants. Continuing chedule: July 2 - Dolphin Tale 2. July 9 - Cinderella. July 16 - How to Train Your Dragon 2. July 23 - Big Hero 6. July 30 - Night at the Museum 3. Free admission. For more information, visit

Mountain Smallmouth Bass On-the-Stream Fly Fishing School at Murrays Fly Shop in Edinburg, Va.

121 S. Main St. Daily presentation at the fly shop in Edinburg, Va. July 30 and Aug. 8. Each day begins with a presentation at the fly shop followed by fishing trip to either the North or South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Fly rod and reel outfits provided for use during school, available for sale. Five students per school with one instructor. Admission: $196 per person, lodging not included. Cancellation Policy: Full refunds for cancellations 60 days before the date of your school, a full refund is issued, otherwise flys shop gift certificate issued less a $50 cancellation fee. For more information, visit

Museum Exhibit at George C. Marshall Museum in Lexington, Va.

Virginia Military Institute Parade Ground. The Art Of War Exhibition. Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for students. For more information, call 540-460-7103 or visit

More things to do..
Historic Lexington, Virginia

A Friday-evening downtown art walk is held once a month in Lexington, home to the Virginia Military Institute and Washington & Lee University.

Photo by Hank Zimmerman