Although strong partnerships have resulted in the protection of more than 1650 acres of hallowed ground at Cedar Creek, as well as the historic Belle Grove Plantation, this battlefield remains among the most threatened Civil War sites in the country. Highway expansion, commercial and industrial development, and mining operations pose ongoing threats to this historic area.
Interstate 81 travels through the heart of the Cedar Creek Battlefield and continues for more than 150 miles through the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to this highly trafficked corridor, Interstate 66, which provides direct access to Washington, D.C., ends at its intersection with Interstate 81, right in the heart of the Cedar Creek Battlefield. While Interstate 81 is currently one of the most scenic highways in the interstate system, its location has spurred development and damaged the historic integrity of this and other battlefields.
In 2007 the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration approved a $12 billion plan to widen Interstate 81 to a minimum of six lanes along its entire 320-mile length in Virginia, with eight-to-twelve lane sections in some urban areas. Proposed changes to this interstate threaten hundreds of acres of the Shenandoah Valley’s battlefields.
While full implementation of the plan is not funded — and tolling the interstate would require express approval of the General Assembly — the plan does guide specific improvements as they are made along the roadway and leads to excessive project costs, leaving funds unavailable for additional improvements elsewhere along the roadway. Plans are moving quickly, however, to widen portions of the interstate through Cedar Creek. Preservation groups are mobilizing to oppose this threat to Cedar Creek and other battlefields in the region.
- Cedar Creek Battlefield is at the intersection two major highways.
- A plan has been developed to widen Interstate 81
- Organizations are mobilizing to prevent this threat
Because of its proximity to Washington, D.C., as well as to major transportation routes, the battlefields of the Shenandoah Valley, particularly Cedar Creek, are vulnerable to development. In recent decades, the Valley has seen an influx of residential, commercial and industrial development, which threatens the integrity of these hallowed battlefields.
Cedar Creek’s location at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 66 makes it particularly susceptible to development. Subdivisions and industrial plants have sprung up across Middletown and Strasburg, near, and sometimes on, core battlefield land, altering the pristine landscape of the battlefield and constantly threatening the integrity of this historic ground.
Local preservation planning can contribute to battlefield protection by diverting development to more appropriate areas of a community, such as urban development areas and town centers. Public support for the protection of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park can also be a crucial factor in the preservation effort.
- In the past decade, the region has seen an influx of development.
- Many other battlefields in the region are also under attack.
- Development could be diverted to other parts of the region.
Without a doubt, the largest threat to the battlefield at Cedar Creek is the massive limestone quarry adjacent to the battlefield. Almost 400 of the Valley’s most important battlefield acres are threatened by the expansion of a limestone quarry on the western edge of the battlefield. The expansion area has been identified by the National Park Service as some of the most significant terrain at Cedar Creek.
In addition to destruction of battlefield land, the blasting and dust from the existing mine directly threaten the battlefield and the historic Belle Grove Plantation. Visual and traffic impacts from the mining activity diminish the historic character of the surrounding landscape, as large-scale mining equipment towers over significant portions of this national park. Partners in the valley continue to work with the mining company for solutions that can help mitigate the loss of battlefield land, and help to protect the integrity of this significant hallowed ground.
- Almost 400 significant acres are threatened.
- Blasting and dust threaten the aging structures.
- Partners are working closely with the mining company.