Around here in Virginia, you can throw a feather and it lands on history.
Last week, back in Charlottesville, I took the trip to Monticello. Beforehand, I took Geordie to a dog daycare kennel then off to Jefferson’s house. It was a day filled with rain. I drove to the visitor center a bit early and bump my tour time up. I got to watch the end of the movie in the theater and the beginning.
The shuttle dropped us off and we waited outside. Once inside we were in Jefferson’s two story entryway. The walls were filled with replicas of the treasures brought back from Lewis and Clark’s exploration across the country. A bison hide draped over a balcony and was painted by the Native Americans they met. Peace pipes and spears, and metals given to the chiefs of the tribes.
It’s hard to describe the parts of the house we toured, but it had many elements of a new house. Jefferson built dumbwaiters into the sides of his fireplace for wine to be brought up from the cellar. Pocket doors in one area he learned from the french. He designed french doors where, if you close one door the other side closes behind it.
No pictures are allowed inside the house, but I managed to take a couple outside in the pouring rain.
There are many additional tours you can take after the house tour. You can be guided to the slave quarters and learn of their lives. Also a tour of the gardens with tastings is available. The garden tasting tour would be my choice!
I wandered the garden and was able to name more than a few of the plantings with my knowledge from my own gardening days. Lots of peas were growing tall.
If you find yourself close to the area, touring the house is well worth it.
Now you find me south of Fredericksburg. Yesterday I took a tour of the Civil War battles of Fredericksburg and the Chancellorsville. The tour of Fredericksburg is right in town and has a walking tour of the Confederate frontline. Also in the tour is a drive to the other lines of the battle. One was General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters. I didn’t know this, but some cannons could fire with a range of up to three miles away. Lee watched the battle from that vantage point and could direct cannons to fire on the Union troops.
At the gift shop you can buy CD audio tours of the Chancellorsville and Wilderness battles. It was well worth the nearly three hours for the Chancellorsville tour. It takes you down gravel roads where the Confederate Army marched, lead by Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Just to the southeast of the KOA campground is the place a wounded Stonewall Jackson died of complications from his wounds suffered from his own troops, in the Chancellorsville Battle. A shrine sits at the spot.
I think you could spend a month in Virginia just touring Civil War battle sites. Then another week visiting Jefferson’s, Madison’s, and Washington’s, houses and Williamsburg, which I’ll have to leave for a later visit.
I didn’t take many photos of the battlegrounds as it was really many battle fronts and a bit confusing to try and tell the story in the blog. It is better to look up the battles and find the maps of troop movements and stations.
That’s about it this week, thanks for joining my exploration of this amazing country.