13 May 2012
Virginia’s seven Shenandoahs
Posted by Callan Bentley
The word “Shenandoah” is thought to mean “daughter of the stars,” a lovely turn of phrase even if there’s no evidence for it. The name has been applied to a variety of features in the Commonwealth of Virginia. One is the Shenandoah River, and the valley in which it flows. Here’s a look at the North Fork of the Shenandoah, northwest of Massanutten Mountain:
Then there is the political entity of Shenandoah County, which runs from Massanutten’s southeastern ridge to the West Virginia border, including the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, but not the South Fork:
Shenandoah Mountain is a ridge in Rockingham County, the next county to the southwest of Shenandoah County:
There’s also a town called Shenandoah, and it’s located on the South Fork* of the Shenandoah River, in a third county, Page, which is one of the counties** that lies between Massanutten’s southeastern ridge and the Blue Ridge mountain front:
* Note that Google Maps has mislabeled the South Fork as the “North Fork” in this screenshot. Weird. I’m not used to them making errors like that.
** The other being Warren County, home of the unwieldily-named Raymond R. “Andy” Guest, Jr. Shenandoah River State Park. Here’s a look at it:
Far from all of this, up in the city of Winchester (surrounded by Frederick County), is Shenandoah University:
Finally, of course, is Shenandoah National Park, which unlike every other place discussed so far, lies in the Blue Ridge physiographic (and geologic) province, not the Valley & Ridge:
I would argue that Shenandoah National Park is poorly named, and would have been better dubbed “Blue Ridge National Park.” While parts of it are in the Shenandoah River watershed, the river itself is nowhere within the park’s boundaries.
My wife and I are planning to move to easternmost Shenandoah County next month, to the Fort Valley (inside Massanutten Mountain). Musing on that place name got me thinking about how many other places the name “Shenandoah” has been applied to. Did I miss any?
Shenandoah is a beautiful word. The sound of it can make my heart swell and my eyes mist. I’m a Valley girl, born and raised and I love all things Shenandoah. I have made the beauty found here the focus of my art. Welcome to you and your wife.
Thanks Diane – Looking forward to meeting you out there. I saw some of your art on the wall at Christina’s in Strasburg a few weeks back!
You’re going to live *inside* a mountain? Like an underground lair, or the bat cave? Awesome! 🙂
Well, “inside the perimeter defined by the mountain”? Hard to know what to call that, exactly. We’ll be surrounded by Massanutten Mountain, but it won’t be over our heads.
A ‘lake’ (a.k.a. pond)
A limestone cave:
P.S. Did the North Fork suffer a base-level drop in the geologically recent past? Those meanders look a bit incised.
Nice! Well sleuthed… Of course, now I lose the alliterative post title…
Yes to the incision of the meanders – it’s not as deep as others (Paw Paw Bends), but the meandering shape is cut into bedrock. north Fork appears structurally controlled (by joints orthogonal to trend of Massanutten’s ridge).
Callan–as an avid follower of your blog I am so excited to hear that you and your wife and soon to be family are about to be living here in the Valley! I am a Strasburg resident and would love to buy you a beverage of your choice at Christina’s sometime. Should you ever be of a mind to do a geology hike or whatever for amateur geology lovers in the area let me know.
Thanks, Mary! We’re looking forward to life out there. -C.