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October 22nd, 2008
We decided it was time to travel to Shenandoah for a mid-week vacation. We figured fall in mid-week was the best way to see the fall colors as well as beat the crowds. So our trip was Tuesday through Thursday.
We had done everything we wanted to almost on our first day except the mountain hike. On the second day, we drove up to the mountains and it was TOO cold to go hiking. So we took photos and had a nice drive and not much else. Because we'd done all we wanted to/could do on our trip in a day and a half and we didn't know what else to do, we looked at many pamphlets in the hotel and found that Virginia Military Institute owns a battlefield/farm and Museum. So we went to it. It was located about 20 minutes from Luray and it was a nice drive getting there. New Market was a small town with a cute downtown feel in one area not far from the battlefields.
The museum costs 9.00 full price and 5.00 for children 6-17; anyone under 5 is free. There are special rates for AAA members, seniors, military and other specials for those with season passes or those who attend/have attended VMI, are free. For this trip, you will need some things this time. It's a long walk around the battlefields if you choose to do that, so you'll need comfortable walking shoes. It's not really accessible to the handicapped (the grounds are rocky paths and can be muddy etc and the farm itself doesn't have ramps etc). Inside the visitors center/museum, restrooms are available as well as water fountains, but nothing is available on the grounds at all, so be prepared to be out there quite a while. When we got there, a group of kids were being talked to (20 minute presentation before questions), so we decided to walk the grounds first and glad we did! It was so quiet and basically, we were alone the whole time.
We started off going up a trail and saw a piece of artillery and a couple cannons. We saw, between the trees something so went in the woods and discovered a path that led to what I felt was a nice little secret: a stone area/wall/steps leading to a tremendous view of the valley/town below. It was like out of a magazine or something. I am glad we explored that. After that, we walked back down to the farm and discovered a couple out buildings (one big barn which was closed, two run down looking shacks that had equipment/old tools inside and a button to push for sound, and then we went into the main house which had furniture etc; nobody was inside and I was surprised they trusted people like that. Outside again were other outbuildings like a kitchen, outhouse, ice house, a place that looks like it may have been for spinning wool/curing hams etc and an outdoor fire pit/fireplace that probably was for boiling clothing (pit) and baking bread (fireplace). We discovered that this was the Bushong Farm, where a Civil War battle was fought. It's claim to fame is minimal, but it's known mostly because VMI cadets were taken from school to fight in the battle and ten lost their lives there while 57 were injured. They were just children really. The other claim to fame is a field called "The field of lost shoes". This was coined by a soldier who noted that field was so muddy during the battle that their shoes stuck in the mud and everyone fought barefoot.
Inside the museum itself are examples of letters, uniforms, weapons, flags and maps from the Civil War and most notably stuff locally from that farm etc. It's not the largest museum but it's quite unique. They start out talking to you and you can explore on your own. It doesn't take long to go through. There is a gift shop and a small room where you can get a drink/snack from machines (there's no restaurant).
1) The parlor of the Bushong Farm 2) The dining area of the Bushong Farm 3) A bedroom 4) The upstairs hall
1) Another view of the bedroom 2) The outdoor Summer Kitchen (there's also a loft for a slave or cook 3) an Ice house 4) The building where they spun wool and cured meats
1) The Meat Curing building again 2) The Bushong Farm sign 3) The large barn you can't enter 4) A nice view of the farmhouse and some out buildings
1) The Hall of Valor Museum 2) Inside the Hall of Valor Museum 3) The biggest display in the center of the main museum part. 4) A view of the Battlefield (lost shoe area I THINK).
Informative or interesting links:
Luray Caverns (the Car and Carraige Museum is on the Caverns Site)