Silver Lake Mill

The historian got to turn an interior iron crank that released water at Silver Lake, Dayton, Virginia, which turned the early 20th century red wheel. The water flowed towards Cooks Creek, which drained towards the North River and eventually the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, which reached the Potomac River and finally the Chesapeake Bay. This mill was burned by Union soldiers during the Civil War and rebuilt after the war. As with the water which bubbles forth from the Silver Lake springs and ends up in the Atlantic Ocean, so our lives are interconnected and flow into the future in sometimes unknown and winding directions.

Silver Lake Mill, Dayton, Virginia, Rockingham County, Virginia July, 2016

James Madison University

Friends took a hike on the newly developed Bluestone Trail in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  The trail is a function of the city of Harrisonburg and the sprawling and growing comprehensive university that dominates the landscape in the friendly city.  Hikers and bikers shared the trail on a sunny day, which all revolved around the fourth president’s namesake school, an outstanding institution in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

JMU March 2015 Bluestone Trail hike

New bridge over Linville Creek replaces 1898 wrought iron truss bridge that many Broadway, Virginia, residents, including Mennonites, used in early 20th century

Mennonites in the Northern District of Virginia Mennonite Conference often used this old iron bridge to head west towards mission stations in the West Virginia highlands. Today a modern bridge over the steady Linville Creek reduces the 1898 bridge to a foot and bike path. The old bridge in Broadway, Virginia, is on the National Register of Historic Places in Virginia.

Massanutten Mountain from Greenmount and Sky Road intersection, Rockingham County, Virginia

On a trip from Singers Glen, Virginia, to Harrisonburg, Virginia, the historian spotted this grand view of the Massanutten Mountain. On his trips to Harrisonburg, musician Joseph Funk probably paused to relish in the ancient beauty of the distant mountain peak. Perhaps it was inspiration for his printing and musical work in the valley.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Amish

In the late 17th century Amish began migrating from Europe to Philadelphia, PA, and eventually moved west to Lancaster County, PA.  From there they migrated west to Ohio and other states.  In Lancaster County, the Amish maintain their agricultural way of of life, in spite of rapid urbanization and modernity all around them.  They are the fastest growing religious group in North America.  This Amish farm is in Smoketown, Lancaster County, PA.




Burkholder-Myers house, CrossRoads Heritage Center, December 7, 2013

Christmas on a cold December evening at the historic 1854 Burkholder-Myers house in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with twenty-first century lights and a football field in the distance. Martin and Rebecca Burkholder would find it a challenge to recognize their own house.

Agricultural Heritage

Cloverhill going north looking west

Mennonites migrated into the Shenandoah Valley as early as the 1730s, though not until after the Revolutionary War did the trickle turn into a steady migration from points north.  Most 18th century Mennonites farmed, whereas in the twentieth century many diversified their economic pursuits into other areas of work.  The farming heritage in the western part of Rockingham County near Clover Hill, Virginia, with the Allegheny Mountains as a backdrop, is still strong and deep.

Massanutten Mountain 2013


Mennonite Bishop Lewis J. Heatwole wrote an article for the Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Virginia, in 1921, in which he explained the meaning of the word Massanutten.  From his research he concluded that Massanutten is from two Indian words for “ground” and “potato,” which when put together mean “Potato Ground.”  Today the old peak still towers over the valley, easily seen from a jumbo jet descending on a Washington, D.C. airport from the south, and visible from about any point in the Shenandoah Valley.  The encroachments of civilization have not dimmed the spectacle and grandeur of a mountain that has provided a visual feast for ancient Indians and modern travelers.