One of the best ways to experience the Shenandoah Valley is drive along historic Route 11 (the Great Wagon Road) . Virtually every mile affords spectacular mountain range views on the east and west. Valley towns with European roots now boast acres of vineyards, delightful local shopping and small museums that await your discovery.
Towns like Edinburg in Shenandoah County are an integral part of this route.
Kary Haun, spokesman for Shenandoah County Tourism, told us, “We would love for visitors to know that Edinburg is a charming small town with many historic buildings that are home to cafes, shops, an old Opera House for live performances by Theatre Shenandoah and a bed and breakfast. Close to the cafes and shops is a lovely campground along Stoney Creek.”
Edinburg was settled in the latter part of the 18th-century by Germans and Swiss pioneers, drawn by the rich soil, beautiful countryside and plentiful water of the Shenandoah River and Stony Creek. The town was first known as “Shryock” after a settler and then “Edenburg,” alluding to the Garden of Eden. Edinburg, a name changed by the federals, was incorporated in 1852.
In the early 1800s Philip Grandstaff built a gun factory on Stony Creek and made arms for the War of 1812. On that site a roller mill was built in 1848 by his son, George. A working mill until 1978, it was almost burned during the Civil War under the Union’s “scorched earth” campaign. Local women convinced the soldiers to salvage the mill’s flour, and the fire was extinguished, saving the mill. (Visitors to the Mill today can watch a 45-minute film, “The Burning,” to learn more about this.)
“Today,” commented Haun, “the Edinburg Mill is now on the list of National Historic Places and serves as a visitor center and Cultural Heritage Museum that tells the story of the Town, the Valley, the Pike, the Shenandoah River and the railroad.” The Mill also houses Pixie’s Restaurant, the Heritage Mill Wine shop, and gift shops. The museum’s exhibits cover early transportation, local Civil War Action and Camp Roosevelt–the country’s first Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, which was set up in 1933, about nine miles from town.
Visitors will find the town has retained much of its 19th century influence, with picturesque Victorian homes, hand-carved woodwork and crafted stone walls. Walking tours, shopping for art and antiques, and a variety of non-chain restaurants make for a splendid day to explore.
One industry in the Valley attracting increasing attention is wine-making. Shenandoah Vineyards and Cave Ridge Vineyards (about seven miles from Edinburg) are beautiful for tours and tastings. More broadly, Shenandoah County is now part of a regional network that highlights wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries. Haun said, “Last year we launched the Shenandoah Spirits Trail with Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Winchester and Frederick County. Just this month we are introducing Clarke, Warren and Page counties, so in all our new reprinted maps will show 20 vineyards, 3 cideries, 17 breweries, 3 distilleries and a beer museum in our region. Visitors to the Trail’s website site can download a printable map or request a larger pocket guide and map by mail.”
Edinburg is also home to Murray’s Fly Shop, (540-984-4212) a fly fisherman’s dream. Guided trips, classes, workshops and all the flies, rods, reels, waders, etc. you can imaging can be had at this outdoorsman’s landmark.
Edinburg gains substantial attention every December when they erect the tallest live Christmas tree in the county and adorn it with more than 5,000 lights. An annual Ole’ Time Festival is held in September as well.
Learn more about Edinburg and Shenandoah County.