Take a trolley tour to ‘A Giant Sleeping’

 

 

Clark B. Hall, pictured within a soldier’s winter hut-site on Hansbrough’s Ridge. There are dozens of these hut sites on the ridge.
Courtesy photo

For 33 years Clark “Bud” Hall has enjoyed the majesty of Hansbrough Ridge. Now, he will get to share it with the public.

Hall will be the tour guide when the Culpeper Department of Tourism and Mountain Run Winery offer a trolley tour of the Virginia State Historical Landmark overlooking the hamlet of Stevensburg.

Diane Logan, President of Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield and trolley tour coordinator for the Culpeper Department of Tourism, scheduled the June 3 event.

“Now that the Civil War Preservation Trust has purchased the property, we were excited to offer organized tours of the ridge with our expert tour guide Bud Hall,” Logan said.

Hall called Hansbrough Ridge “A Giant Sleeping,” referring to how well preserved the defensive position was. At the ridge are dozens of huts, preserved from the winter encampment of 1863-1864.

“I’ve been going there since 1984 and to think this place will be preserved is absolutely fabulous,” Hall said. “I’ve never seen a historic viewscape any more impressive than this one.”

While the encampment is part of the appeal, it’s not as widely known that the ridge played a pivotal role in the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863.

“Plus, this is core battlefield,” Hall said. “Much of the Battle of Brandy Station’s Stevensburg phase happened on this ground. From the signal platform from the top of Hansbrough’s Ridge you can see the entirety of Culpeper County.”

Hall explained the significance of the ridge, comparing it to Fleetwood Hill at the north end of the Brandy Station Battlefield.

“As Fleetwood Hill protects you from invasion from the north, Hansbrough Ridge does from the east,” Hall said. “Hansbrough Ridge is a better defensive position than Fleetwood Hill, because the ridge is taller and with the trenchworks and artillery it was a formidable position.”

Hall called the ridge a military strategist’s dream.

He also pointed out the importance of the ridge on the Battle of Brandy Station. Hansbrough Ridge may have turned the tide for the Confederates, helping them weather the federal storm.

“It’s no secret the Confederates were surprised,” Hall said. “Two regiments of Confederates headed for Hansbrough Ridge and the ridge stymied the federal attack. Hansbrough Ridge enabled large companies to be delayed.”

The CWPT purchased the property for $900,000 including a $250,000 grant from Virginia Outdoors Foundation from Culpeper landowners Joe Kincheloe and Marvin Jenkins. The duo purchased the property from the Stoy family in Maryland a few years ago.

The 174 acre site helps give the Brandy Station/Cedar Mountain Battlefield Alliance a better position for a proposed state park that would incorporate Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain battlefields.

“This is a huge sight geographically,” Logan said. “It’s on high ground and it was a pivotal part of the Battle of Brandy Station and later the winter encampment of 1863. There was a hospital built on site and log huts for the men. A road was carved from the ridge to Brandy Station for supplies. It speaks more to the soldiers and how they lived.”

There is only one other known surviving archaeological location like Hansbrough’s Ridge in Virginia, and ironically it’s just down the road. The 41-acre Stafford County Civil War Park holds three earthen forts and remains of winter huts that Union troops built in the winter of 1862-63.

Logan said 20,000 soldiers camped on the Hansbrough Ridge location and noted how well preserved the location is.

“For me, it’s imperative to share Culpeper’s history,” she said. “We use it as education and can educate people how events in Culpeper County impacted other areas like Orange.”

Impact on Tourism

Paige Read, Director of Tourism and Economic Development, said the trolley tour program has been a great success.

“It’s a very rare opportunity to be able to view a part of Culpeper history that is not as well known,” Read said.

Tourism drew in $38,323,349 for Culpeper in 2015, generating $874,048 in local tax receipts.

According to Read, 20% percent of visitors to the visitor center cited history as the reason for visiting Culpeper.

“We’re a very large history destination,” Read said. “A lot of people expected a slump in Civil War visits (after the sesquicentennial) and we have not seen that at all. Interest and visitor interaction has been steady.”

There are six other tours planned for this season, and information on them will be released later.

“We’re very excited for these tours, I wish I could offer them every week,” Read said. “Hansbrough Ridge wasn’t always my personal passion but it has quickly become so.”

Tour information

The tour will begin at the Depot where visitors will load into a trolley and travel to Hansbrough’s Ridge. From there, Hall will lead a tour and then visitors will be taken to Mountain Run Winery for a tasting.

This is the second trolley tour offered this year and Logan said that eight more are planned through the Department of Tourism. They were first offered four years ago and picked up steam last year when four tours were extremely successful. The Department of Tourism then asked her to coordinate this year’s tours.

“We’re very excited to go to these sites and share the history, plus wineries are extremely important to the history of Virginia,” Logan said.

The tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 3.

Afterwards the group will head to Mountain Run Winery for a private tasting with owner and lead vintner David Foster. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and proper attire on the tour traversing moderate to rough terrain.

Tickets are $30 and are available at eventbrite.com search Hansbrough Ridge and Mountain Run Winery Tour.

 

Want to go?

What: Trolley Tour of Hansbrough Ridge

When: June 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Details: Afterwards the group will head to Mountain Run Winery for a private tasting with owner and lead vintner David Foster. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and proper attire on the tour traversing moderate to rough terrain.

Tickets are $30 and are available at eventbrite.com search Hansbrough Ridge and Mountain Run Winery Tour.

For more information contact Diane Logan at 540-718-1664 or Paige Read at 540-727-0611.

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