The Shenandoah Valley is probably most famous for its Civil War history. But to those who know and love the beauty and natural fertility of this area, it should come as no surprise that the Shenandoah Valley had human inhabitants well before Europeans arrived. In honor of these fascinating early peoples, we’ve rounded up six fun facts on the Native American History of the Shenandoah Valley.
1. There’s a Lot We Don’t Know about Native American History
This is more of a non-fact than a fact, but it’s important to keep in mind! Native Americans aren’t the easiest people to learn about. They lived quite a long time ago, and they left behind few remains for our historians to find. The Native Americans were often nomadic people whose relationship with the natural world seems to have been one of great respect. They made an effort to leave little impact on the natural systems of which they were a part. However, they did leave some traces of their presence, including pottery shards and burial mounds. Some of the more permanently settled Native American groups also left behind evidence of villages and food storage systems.
2. The Keyser People were among the more settled inhabitants of the Shenandoah Valley
The Keyser people were a group of Native Americans believed to have immigrated to the Shenandoah Valley from the Ohio valley. They seem to have enjoyed a more farm-based and stable culture than some of their hunter-gatherer counterparts, and left traces of large villages of up to 200 inhabitants. Artifacts of shellfish and quartz suggest that the Keyser people were also importing goods from coastal and other regions. It is believed that they exported deer hides from the Shenandoah Valley. Remains of a Keyser village have been discovered near Front Royal.
3. There were tensions between hunter/gatherer and farming tribes
It is believed that the Iroquois, whose culture was based primarily on hunting and gathering, may have been responsible for emptying the Shenandoah Valley of its Native American farmers and villages. These hunter-gatherers thrived in lands otherwise devoid of human settlers. They may have forcibly removed the villagers, whose settlements threatened their own way of life.
4. Native Americans blazed the trail for some modern day Shenandoah Valley roads
It was buffalo, and the Native Americans hunting them, who originally formed the trail that would become Virginia’s Route 11. Running north and south through the Shenandoah Valley, Route 11 closely parallels the busier and less scenic I-81. Whether on the highway or the byway, many modern travelers through the valley are following a Native American route more or less closely.
5. Native Americans formed a complex trail system in the Valley
Native Americans traveled the Shenandoah Valley for many purposes. Hunting, trade, warfare, and the search for the best seasonal forage areas were among their many reasons for travel. Their journeys eventually formed a system of trails known as the Great Warrior Path.
6. Visitors can see Native American Artifacts at the Strasburg Museum
The Strasburg Museum is found in Front Royal’s neighboring town of Strasburg. It’s a fascinating historic building, and a treasure trove of local history. You’ll find Virginia history since the time of the Colonial Era here. If you’re interested in finding out more about the first known human inhabitants of the Shenandoah Valley, you can see Native American artifacts too.
The story of the Native American inhabitants of the Shenandoah Valley is a fascinating, and often overlooked part of the Valley’s history. But exploring the Shenandoah Valley with these facts about its earliest human inhabitants in mind can provide a thrilling new perspective on one of Virginia’s most beautiful landscapes.
Winter is probably the least enticing time of year for venturing outdoors, yet it’s important for your physical and mental health to keep some kind of outdoor activity going through the winter. The good news is that the Front Royal area is a great place to get outdoors all year long. Whether you made a New Year’s resolution to spend more time outdoors, or are simply looking for a breath of fresh air to clear your head this winter, read on. We have six great tips for enjoying being outside around Front Royal all year long.
1. Plan Ahead
If it’s hard for you to take that first step out of your door on a cold day, planning specific outdoor adventure that you’ll enjoy is a good way to overcome this mental block. Whether you decide to take a ten minute walk around your neighborhood, or head to Shenandoah National Park for an afternoon of adventure, you’re more likely to get out there if you know what you’re going to do, and how long (or short!) it’s going to take.
2. Find a Buddy
Having some accountability can make all the difference if you’re on the fence about whether to leave your cozy home on a winter’s day. Find a friend (furry friend is good too!) who’s also committed to getting more outdoor time and make them your winter buddy. If you’ve set a time to meet up, you’re much more likely to go. Or make it a date and have your accountability partner be your spouse or significant other.
3. Be realistic about what you’ll enjoy
The beginning of a New Year is a classic time for making unachievable resolutions and ending up frustrated and depressed. If you’re excited about a resolution to get outdoors more, make sure it’s a realistic one. You’re more likely to succeed at something you genuinely enjoy. If you’re not much of an outdoor adventurer during the rest of the year, don’t plan on a five mile hike once a week in the winter. The good news is there a lots of ways to get outdoors in the winter. Just step outside and look around! Front Royal has some amazing views! A window-shopping walk down Front Royal’s Main Street could be a great option. Or if you have kids, plan a trip to one of Front Royal’s fantastic parks. On the other hand, if you already love to hike, planning some winter adventures might be a great way to keep enjoying the outdoors during the cold season.
4. Dress Appropriately
Having warm enough clothes can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of a winter outing. Warm socks, a hat, and gloves, are all key items to help retain body heat. And you’ll need a good warm coat too, of course. For all your winter clothing needs, check out Mountain Trails on Front Royal’s Main Street.
5. Make the most of winter weather conditions
If the weather’s snowy, it may be unsafe to drive, but you have a great chance to try some winter sports that can’t be enjoyed under any other conditions. Enjoy the stillness and the sights of a snowy walk around your neighborhood, build snowmen in your backyard, or venture a little further to find a sledding hill (Front Royal’s Skyline Middle School has one that’s a local favorite!). If the roads are clear, you could head to Shenandoah National Park and try snowboarding, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing for even more snowy excitement.
6. Reward Yourself with a Treat
Once the chill wears off, we hope you’ll find that the outdoors in winter is so enjoyable that you don’t need any other special treats to help get yourself outside. But if you’re in the camp of those who still aren’t excited about it, reward the extra effort you’re making with a little treat. You could buy (or make) yourself a cup of your favorite hot drink to sip on while you walk or watch your kids at the park. You could enjoy your favorite baked goods when you get home. Or promise yourself a beer and burger as you warm up and refuel from that epic winter hike. Getting outdoors in the winter isn’t always easy. If you’ve risen to the challenge you deserve a reward!
Getting outside in the winter can be more difficult than in any other season. Use these tips to make sure you keep on getting outside this winter. You’ll enjoy the benefits of better health and a better mood all winter long.
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