Shenandoah Virginia on the map. National Park Shenandoah ( Virginia state ) on the map of USA

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Shenandoah Virginia on the map. National Park Shenandoah ( Virginia state ) on the map of USA

Far right, top: The heart of Shenandoah's beauty is its forests—over 95 percent of the park is covered with lush forests with 100 species of trees.

Far right, middle: The barred owl is a permanent resident of the park, but many species of birds find their way here on their southward migration.

Far right, bottom: Deer are frequently seen from the trails that crisscross the ridges and valleys, and the hills and hollows of this enchanted land.

Facing page: Scenic Skyline Drive provides panoramic vistas of the spectacular Shenandoah Valley.

Below: A family enjoys a peaceful moment of solitude as the sun sets on the Blue Ridge Mountains, painting the horizon pink and purple.

Shenandoah, Virginia

Established: 1935   Acreage: 195,057

Shenandoah National Park lies astride a section of the Blue Ridge, which forms the eastern bulwark of the Appalachian Mountains between Pennsylvania and Georgia. Providing vistas of the spectacular landscape is the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive, a winding road that runs along the Blue Ridge through the length of the park. The park contains 60 mountain peaks ranging from 2000 to 4000 feet in elevation. When it was established in 1935, it became only the second national park east of the Mississippi River.

The story of the park includes 9000 years of continuous human involvement with the land. Indians lived here long before the Europeans discovered it, living off the land, picking what they could use from the native plants and hunting wild game. By 1800, white settlement of the lowlands around the park was generally complete. While the valleys were being colonized, the mountains themselves remained uninhabited. As long as land was readily available in the valleys, farmers had no need to move to the less hospitable mountain slopes. Later, good land was hard to find, and people moved farther up the mountains.

It was these subsistence farmers who, in the mid-1800s, established the celebrated 'mountain culture' of this area of the Appalachians. As the people moved into the mountain hollows in increasing numbers, they began to adversely affect the land. Game, once plentiful, disappeared. Soil erosion increased as land was cleared for use. By 1900 the land was wearing out and people began to move off the ridge. In 1936, President Franklin D Roosevelt initiated a novel experiment in returning an overused area to its original beauty. Croplands and pastures soon became overgrown with shrubs, locusts, and pine. In turn, oak, hickory and other trees that make up a mature deciduous forest were growing within the boundaries of the park. The vegetative regeneration has been so complete that in 1976 Congress designated two-fifths of the park as a wilderness. The area now teems with wildflowers, strawberries and blueberries, as well as many species of wildlife— deer, bobcat, bear, turkey and smaller animals, such as chipmunk, raccoon, skunk, opossum and gray squirrel. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded. The park is also home to several species of salamanders and snakes.

Although the park's primary purpose is to preserve the natural resources, traces of the human story remain to be explored. The remains of the mountain people's homes, barns, hog pens and fruit cellars exist throughout the park as piles of logs, a few standing walls and lone chimneys. A few significant historic buildings, such as President Hoover's Camp, have been preserved.

 

Shenandoah Virginia on the map. National Park Shenandoah ( Virginia state ) on the map of USA