Letter to the Editor: Cool Spring

To the Editor:This week I wrote a letter to the Clarke County Board of Supervisors urging the County’s acceptance of an offer from our sister organization Civil War Trust to preserve and interpret a major portion of the Cool Spring battlefield.

This opportunity is important to my organization as Clarke County is part of the eight-county Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District (SVNHD), established by Congress to protect and interpret Civil War battlefield sites in the Valley.  Clarke County contains Cool Spring, a site that is considered to be a Civil War site of national significance.

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF) is the entity designated by Congress to manage Civil War battlefields in the National Historic District, sites that are owned by many different public and private entities, as well as ourselves.  We develop interpretation and signage for these sites, as well as promote the sites and partner jurisdictions to the mid-Atlantic region and to the nation, where interest in the Civil War is high, especially during this 150th anniversary commemoration of the conflict.

In my letter to the Supervisors, I offered three points in support of your joining the NVRPA, thereby enabling the creation of this protected battlefield and park:

  1. In the current financial environment, it is difficult to secure funds to purchase or place conservation easements on battlefield properties.  Opportunities like the one that has been presented are few, and once these hallowed grounds are developed, they are lost forever.
  2. I have reviewed the draft Management Plan presented by NVRPA and believe the Goals and Objectives for Natural and Cultural Resourcesand Operations & Uses for Passive Recreation Options sections provide an appropriate roadmap for the use of this historic property.  Further, involvement of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in restoration, interpretation, and placing of the property under a battlefield easement will assure this the historic value of the property is protected, while also protecting the interests of nearby residents.
  3. By establishing a battlefield park in Clarke County, our organization will be able to coordinate its interpretation and promotion with the other battlefield properties we manage in the Shenandoah Valley.  With the addition of a Cool Spring park, this battlefield can be woven into our promotion of the Valley battlefields, including our website, tourism materials, living history demonstrations, and programs to support the local economy.

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation feels it is important for the protection of our heritage, as well as for the encouragement of District-wide heritage-related business, that Clarke County looks favorably on the potential partnership with NVRPA.

SVBF will be pleased to work with Clarke County and the NVRPA to realize this opportunity for all three entities.

Denman Zirkle, Executive Director
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation



  1. Stonebroke says:

    We don’t need that type of growth coming in to our County! If you want to visit a Battlefield, go across the Mountain or Winchester. That is the way everyone feels about everything else, shouldn’t be any different for a Battlefield!

    • As a long time citizen of the county, I welcome this type of growth. Good letter.

      • funeralforafriend says:

        Since when is removing tax revenue considered growth ? If that were true Clarke would be swimming in excess funds.

  2. Brian McClemens says:

    Great Letter !!! 100% Behind helping this happen !!! Dont listen to the HATERS !!!

  3. non hermit says:

    To the BOS I say –
    Tell the NPPRA that although CC has previously proven our commitment and dedicatation to preserving historic, open and ag spaces and as much as CC appreciates the opportunity to join in the preservation of the Cool Springs Battlefield site, it is simply not economically feasible as this time or in the short term future.
    Send this back to the planners at the NVPRA, SVBF, PEC, Civil War Trust, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Preservation Virginia (endangered va sites list), et al. Certainly these partners will draw upon their resources to secure and operate this site, as they have worked together on other properties to develop alternative solutions to fit the situation.

    Please take a look at the following blog about Mt. Zion/Gilbert’s Corner Regional Parks written by Paul Gilbert, Executive Director NVPRA

  4. The actual battlefield of Cool Spring is *already* being preserved. The fighting took place on the property west of the river (the Monastery land) and it is committed into conservation easement over the next couple of years. The east side, where the golf course is, have no true value as a civil war site.

    From above: “while also protecting the interests of nearby residents.” I am a nearby resident, and having more people on the water, making noise and disturbing wildlife is not in my interest, or that of the riverine habitat.

  5. I don’t think everyone realizes that what they think really does not matter. Mr. Hobart was talking at the Clarke County Rotary that this is a great opportunity for the county and that everyone should be on board. With Byrd and Stalin in on the deal call it what you want, good business or corruption. This is just another way to short fall the education system of Clarke County.

    • Bring the Park says:

      Zero of the funds for this effort will be diverted from education. Don’t mask your ‘not in my back-yard’ concerns with a tone of Education. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Clarke County.

      • OK how about an EMT that is greatly needed and was approved but never funded. I’m sure when you need one your first thought will be how the county needs the park.

        Also this is a one in a life time opportunity that will need to be paid forever from the county.

  6. funeralforafriend says:

    Will the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation help pay the $65,000.00 ? I didn’t think so.

    • Bring the Park says:

      $65K is nothing compared to what the other counties pay….this is a great opportunity. The board should vote yes. Anyone know how many miles of riverfront runs through Clarke County? How much of that is a Park environment that is open to the public? We will regret if we pass on this opportunity.

      • funeralforafriend says:

        65K compared to other counties fees is small but I dare you ask the county for an additional 65K for something other than a pet project and the answer will most assuredly be no.

        The other counties involved have billion dollar budgets.They may pay more dollars but is the % of their budgets dollars greater than Clarke’s % of budget ? Are the other counties running a deficit ? Are their schools fully funded ? When building new schools are they complete? Not an oh we”ll get to that later school . Do they have drop offs for refuse and recycling, senior centers ?

        How many times have you visited Watermelon Park ?

      • Sunshine says:

        Your sentiment is exactly what most locals don’t need or want. No reverence for the lives lost during the battle or the history that will be represented from the interpretive walks.
        You only want free access to the river.

  7. BlossomButt says:

    Everyone seems to be missing the key point here…..There was NO battle on the golf course property and that land has been totally redone by bulldozers and other equipment in order to rebuild the golf course the last time. The only reference that can be made to “the battle” is that you can stand on the golf course and POINT to where the battle happened. Is it worth $65k to put a feather in a county employees cap? I think not.

  8. You’ll find the course nestled in the shadows of the Blue Ridge mountains, along the Shenandoah River on the site of the Battle of Cool Spring.
    Is that false advertisement?

    Your all better off arguing the cost of this proposal, at least it makes some sense.

    The fact of this matter is some residents of the Retreat just don’t want anything there. Not in my backyard!
    Any suggestions on what should become of the land?

    • BlossomButt says:

      How about leave it with the person who holds the mortgage and is stuck with it, instead of bowing to their requests and taking a useless piece of land off their hands?

    • Sunshine says:

      What VA National has on their web site is called marketing.
      Did you really think they would advertise: You’ll find the course nestled in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountains, along the Shenandoah River with a vista of the site of the Battle of Cool Spring. And while playing the wonderful little creatures like gnats and mosquitoes will get into your eyes and gnaw on your skin.

      Not much difference than the park first introduced by NVRPA as a historic area of quiet, peaceful park with interpretive paths to reflect on the historic battle…
      Changing to:
      And now we are adding exercise loops, bicyclist, equestrian trails and renting kayaks and canoes.

      Would NVRPA have the option to then add primitive camping instead of the occasional Boy Scout outing or even more changes?
      I can see that happening as they market or promote by introducing to their panel the requirement of an improved income over expense for this park.

      My suggestion for the land is- leave it to Textron to find another buyer and not utilize the difference of the sale price as a donation to the Civil War Trust.
      At least VA National was paying almost 25k annually in taxes to the County. NVRPA will not.