Journey Through Hallowed Ground

On December 14, 2010 · 4 Comments

The article is a bit self-indulgent today. I’ve been fascinated for quite a while with the National Scenic Byway that has been designated the "Journey Through Hallowed Ground.". Much of my life has centered on places along this 180-mile line, and I’ve driven portions of it literally hundreds of times. I’ve also visited many but not all of the sites that are considered integral to the Hallowed Ground, as might be expected both by my physical proximity and my dual interests in history and geography.

So what do I do when I don’t find the maps on the official website satisfactory for my purposes? I create my own. They’ve developed nice enough maps but the interactive ones cover only a single county each. I wanted everything on a single map. Fortunately the website provides a convenient list of waypoints to make this a fairly simple exercise (even if a few of them weren’t entirely correct).

View Journey Through Hallowed Ground in a larger map

Perhaps a few people on the Intertubes will also find it useful. I’ve set the map option to "public" hoping others may benefit even if I developed it primarily for personal enjoyment.

The hallowed ground covers a remarkably compact territory considering its significance during the first century of United States history. Founding fathers and early presidents including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe called this home. Hugely important Civil War battles including Gettysburg, Antietam, and First and Second Manassas, plus dozens of smaller engagements ravaged the landscape. It’s hard to move even a few miles around here without running into something of profound historical significance.

View Larger Map

There are some lesser-known places I’ve wanted to visit. The Graffiti House tops that list. Both Union and Confederate armies stopped here frequently as they marched along the ancient Carolina Road between various campaigns. It also served as a Confederate field hospital during the nearby Battle of Brandy Station (the largest cavalry engagement in U.S. history). Soldiers from both armies left extensive doodles and writings on the wall, which were covered-up with wallpaper after the war and forgotten about until the 1990’s. The home only recently passed into the hands of a foundation that will protect it. They’ve also made it available for limited public viewing.

There seems to be quite a divergence in the historical significance of sites included on the list. Obviously, few are going to argue that Gettysburg and Monticello aren’t historic. Some of the places, however, appear to have been added to fill out the map or drive tourism to some of the more obscure corners. The Point of Rocks bridge? Really?

View Larger Map

I guess I’ll always think of this bridge as an easy way across the border into nearby Maryland when I was newly of drinking age, and wanted cheap booze. That liquor store even had a drive-through window! It was quite a striking contrast to the state-run Virginia liquor stores that had all the ambiance of the old Soviet Union.

Some grounds, even among the hallowed grounds, are more hallowed than others.

On December 14, 2010 · 4 Comments

4 Responses to “Journey Through Hallowed Ground”

  1. Randy Clark says:

    I heard something about this being a way to take property by eminent domain. Hopefully not true but a bit worrisome.

  2. John Jones says:

    Wow, this is a terrific story blog. You’ve been to a lot of sites within the Journey. No doubt, some have a bit more to offer than others, but all, as you noted, play their role in creating the diverse fabric of our nation’s history… And by chance are you related to Judge Howder? I didn’t know the judge, but a friend of mine did.

    @Randy, the Journey has nothing to do with “eminent domain.” It’s just not who they/we are.
    All the best and keep “indulging”

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