Listening to the tenor Colin Morgan singing the American folk song “Shenandoah” on the Late Late Show brought back memories of a visit to this beautiful area in August 2009. In the Shenandoah National Park 75 miles from Washington DC in Virginia, there is a “skyline drive” on the crest of the Blue Ridge mountains, a scenic roadway taking you from one end of the park to the other (105 miles), with a speed limit of 35mph for cars. There is also lodge and cabin accommodation in different areas of the park. In some versions of the song, the name “Shenandoah” refers to an Indian chief, not to the Shenandoah Valley or Shenandoah River. However, an early rendition of the song includes verses that appear to allude to the Shenandoah River, which is partly in Virginia (wikipedia).
Passing through Shenandoah Park, you come to the Blue Ridge Parkway, along the Blue Ridge, part of the Appalachian Mountains. One of the many viewing places along the way was at Irish Creek Valley at milepost 43. It got its name from Ulster-Scots immigrants who settled along the banks of the river in the 1700s. For a 360° view click here. A few miles away are the remains of the Irish Creek Railway (logging railroad). There is a parking spot at Yankee Horse Ridge (MP35), where legend has it that a Union soldier’s horse fell and had to be shot. Construction on the railroad began in 1918 and was completed two years later, with the length of the railroad stretching to 50 miles. The track was built to haul lumber during the pre-parkway logging days. In a document from 1918, one individual reported, “At present, however, a logging railroad is being built up Irish Creek to a point near Irish Creek post-office, and this would make transportation somewhat easier” (Henry G. Ferguson, Virginia Geological Survey).