A Brief History of the Shenandoah Valley
For thousands of years the valley was inhabited or used as hunting grounds by several Indian tribes including the: Iroquois, Cherokee and Algonquian. The name Shenandoah has an unknown Indian origin but the most romantic Native American meaning is "Daughter of the Stars". They traversed the Valley North and South using what was called the Great Warriors Road. This road later became known as the Great Wagon Road, then finally the Valley Pike (US Route 11) as it is still called today. (see more in the Transportation tab).
In the 1600's the Valley was part of the Virginia land grants made to by King Charles II to several English noblemen. Although it was English there was relatively few Englishmen that ventured west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and by the early 1700's German and Scots-Irish, that followed the Potomac from Pennsylvania, started to settle the Valley using the Great Wagon Road to settle the Southern back country.
The Valley was an intricate part of the Civil War and was known as the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy". It became a major part of the South's strategic plan as the route to move troops and provide access to Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, DC. It is interesting to note that the Valley was nor as sympathetic to the South as one might imagine. Since much of the population came from Pennsylvania they did not share the views as many did east of the Blue Ridge. Three major campaigns took place during the war: The Valley Campaign of 1862 led by Stonewall Jackson, The Valley Campaign of Spring 1864 led by Jubal Early and finally the Valley Campaign of Autumn 1964 led by The Union General Philip Sheridan that drove Jubal Early from the Valley.
Currier & Ives, Valley of the Shenandoah, c1864; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov)
Get to Know the Shenandoah Valley
Enjoy your stay in the Shenandoah Valley by becoming more familiar with the history and people of the Shenandoah Valley.