Tag Archives: National Park

2019 – Sightseeing the Northern Neck of Virginia


There’s a lot to see and do in and near the Northern Neck of Virginia and we’ve enjoyed visiting and revisiting several spots. I’ve already done sightseeing reviews of the George Washington Birthplace and the Museum of the Bible. I’m doing this post as a sort of wrap-up of the other places we visited. Some of these are big, well known places and others have more local flavor, like the nice beach in the town of Colonial Beach and the local Ice Cream stand.

It is amazing to realize that eight Presidents of the United States were born in Virginia and that of those eight, two: Washington and Monroe were born just a few miles apart near here. We visited both birthplaces. Then, the Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, who was first offered command of the Union Army by Abraham Lincoln was also born nearby.

Stratford Hall

Robert E. Lee’s birthplace is Stratford Hall. This was the home of his ancestors, two of them signers of the Declaration of Independence: Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee. We enjoyed an audio tour as we walked through the two story mansion. The grounds are extensive with many outbuildings including an outdoor kitchen and smokehouse. We drove out to the Potomac overlook with its cliffs and beach below. The River is an impressive 5 miles wide at that point. We also drove to the grist mill and saw where the wharf for merchant ships that traveled the Potomac brought the wares of the world right to this majestic plantation.

Westmoreland Berry Farm

Another sightseeing trip we took was a short drive to Westmoreland Berry Farm. There were more people there than I expected on a Friday morning. The store has in-season produce. At the time of our June visit they had blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. There are also a variety of jams and fruit salsas available along with BBQ sauces. We picked a small batch of blueberries to take home. Beside the store is a large lawn with a huge chair for photo ops, corn hole games, a swing set, and a long downhill slide using sacks. I think the main draw is the climbing goats who climb up a ladder, across the walkway over the road, and then pull a rope to get a cup of goat feed. There are also goats that people pet and hand feed. We had a fun time in the place with lots of local flavor.

Fredericksburg Battleground

In December of 1862 the Union Army attacked Fredericksburg, VA and crossed the river to meet Robert E. Lee’s troops who were holding Marie’s Height with its high ground and sunken road with a rock wall in front of it. The Confederate Army used that wall for cover and the hill above it for canon emplacements. The Union Army had to come across a wide open field. Although they had more men and sent seven waves of attackers they could not overcome the Confederacy that day. The Visitors Center has many displays and artifacts from the battle. It gives an idea of the people who lived there and how they felt about the war. It also gave us a glimpse into their lives and how the war impacted them. The National Parks Service Ranger was an excellent guide who gave us an overview of the battle as we walked along that sunken road. One house from that battle is still standing and is undergoing renovation to keep it available. We could see bullet holes in the walls from the battle. The nearby National Cemetery is where many Union soldiers are buried, many of them give up their lives trying to take that very hill in the battle of Frederiksberg. We were humbled to be on, what the Ranger said, was the most fought over ground in the entire country.

Father’s Day Colonial Beach Car Show

We just happened onto a great car show. We went into Colonial Beach for church on Sunday morning and just a few blocks from the church a big car show was going on. We had fun walking around, checking out all the cars that were on display. People come from miles around to see this car show, we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to see it.

As you can see the Northern Neck of Virginia has a lot to offer. We’ve enjoyed our time here.


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2019 – Sightseeing George Washington’s Birthplace, Colonial Beach, VA


This National Monument is in Westmoreland County on Popes Creek at Colonial Beach, Virginia. The short film at the visitors center is an excellent start of the tour. We walked up a trail to the barn, checked out the farm workshop where a wide variety of equipment and hand tools are on display. The weaving room was closed but I could see spinning wheels through the window and a huge cauldron in the backyard. The kitchen is staged as though they are almost ready to serve a meal. A nearby colonial garden is full of herbs and flowers.

The original buildings had fallen into ruin but in the 1920s and 1930s the Wakefield Memorial Association with help from John D Rockefeller built a Colonial-Revival style home at the traditional birth sight. Tours are given by Park staff and our guide was excellent. We learned about the early life and relationships of Washington as well as those involved in creating this wonderful monument to our National Leader.


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2019 – Sightseeing Vicksburg, MS

At the Ironclad Cairo in Vicksburg, MS

Vicksburg is a historic town right on the Mississippi River. The Welcome Center has a large veranda with a wonderful view of the River and the bridges that cross it. There is a lovely room staged inside representative of the many historic homes of the area. Nearby is is an overlook called the Navy Circle with markers explaining its importance to the Battle of Vicksburg.

We also visited the Vicksburg National Military Park which commemorates the many soldiers from both sides who fought for control of Vicksburg and control of the Mississippi River. The Battle for Vicksburg lasted more than six months and cost over 48,000 casualties. As we drove through the park I was amazed at the many markers and commemorative statues honoring those involved in the siege.

Also in the park we visited the USS Cairo and the museum. The Cairo is one of seven ironclad gunboats built by the Union army. This is an amazing partial restoration with many of the original timbers still intact. I was surprised that some of the metal on the front was railroad ties placed horizontally for protection. The Cairo was leading a flotilla tasked with destroying Confederate Batteries and underwater mines. She was hit with two explosions and sank within twelve minutes with no loss of life. Inside the museum are many personal artifacts along with other equipment recovered with the ship and are now on display for all to see.


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