Leesburg, History & Wine...

We played tourist locally today. Since we are staying in Loudoun County we thought we'd learn more about this picturesque place. You wouldn't know it by looking at it now, but at one time it was the northwestern frontier of Virginia and a dangerous place to visit until the 1722 Treaty of Albany. The treaty kept the American Indian nations west of the Blue Ridge. With this buffer, settlers began slowly to move into the piedmont of present day eastern Loudoun and the rolling lush lands of the Loudoun Valley in the western part of the county.

I love this library. Library service started here in 1907 when a small private subscription library society was opened in a private home. Following fundraising efforts and construction, this building was dedicated in 1922 as a memorial tribute to Thomas Balch (1821-1877), father of international arbitration and a native of Leesburg.

We began at the Loudoun Museum which had a surprising beginning and continues on a rich journey. In the mid 1960’s, The Town of Leesburg needed to make room for more parking and planned to pull down a former dry cleaners. Hidden under the siding, they discovered Stephen Donaldson’s silversmith shop, a log cabin dating to as early as 1764. Along with this, the Town later bought two additional buildings that ultimately formed the Museum complex.
One item I found intriguing was this Magic Lantern Slide which has its origins in 17th century optical viewing devices. The earliest slides for magic lanterns consisted of hand-painted images on glass, projected by itinerant showmen telling stories about the images that were projected.

This however is a children’s toy magic lantern whose slides are rectangular strips of glass of many sizes, with blue, green, red, orange, pink or yellow paper edging glued on so not to cut children’s hands. Slides are transfers or decals stuck onto the glass strips. I would love this.

Loudoun saw a small but savage battle October 21, 1861 (155 years ago today) at Ball’s Bluff, northeast of Leesburg, when a Union force was driven into the Potomac with heavy losses. Early Confederate success was replaced with Federal occupation by 1862. It was through Loudoun that Lee’s army marched to and from Antietam, followed on the return by Federal troops under McClellan. A year later, Union forces marched through Loudoun on the way to Gettysburg. Each time, the county was wiped clean of forage and horses, often leaving county residents in dire straits. A number of county residents fought back as members of Mosby’s partisan rangers. Mosby, often call the “Gray Ghost of the Confederacy,” was known for his enormously successful hit and run tactics.

Located at the Battlefield is a National Cemetery. This cemetery is the third smallest national cemetery in the United States. Fifty-four Union Army dead from the Battle of Ball's Bluff are interred in 25 graves in the half-acre plot; the identity of all of the interred except for one, James Allen of the 15th Massachusetts, are unknown.

Established in 1855 on the immediate outskirts of town, the Union Cemetery was created as a public cemetery open to people of all faiths. It predated three other “Union” cemeteries in Loudoun County. The cemetery contains the 1908 Union Chapel and several notable monuments, including a Confederate War Memorial at the north end of the site, and an imperfectly cut 30-foot- high granite column, allegedly designed for a D.C. public building, but rejected and brought to the cemetery in the 1890s.

Wildest business combination- ever... Bullets & Beans.

We concluded our fun day with a wine tasting event. The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery housed on a refurbished dairy farm (c. 1910).  The winery is located just off of Route 7 in the quaint, historic town of Hamilton, Virginia only ten minutes from historic Leesburg.  Beginning with carefully selected Virginia grapes, winemaker Michael Shaps creates wines inspired in the Bordeaux French style, but are uniquely expressive of Virginia. Eleven breathtaking acres surround a beautifully restored hundred and six-year-old stone and wood barn, which has been transformed into a unique tasting room.

"The best wines are the ones we drink with friends."

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Karen Booth said...

Picturesque town, early Viewmasters, can't wrap my brain around Bullets and Beans, but I can around wine tasting. It looks like Lee and Margaret will depart with wonderful memories.

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