Cedar Creek Rantings

Eric Wittenberg has offered a couple of posts concerning the blow to preservation efforts at Cedar Creek. As most of the details are related on his site, long story short, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation dropped their objection to the expansion of a mining operation which encroaches upon the battlefield. There’s just no way to spin this right – the goal of preservation took a major blow.

Last summer I personally rediscovered the battlefield during several day trips into the valley. Prior to that, I’d only spent an hour or two cramming in the sites. But over the course of three different weekends, I got to know the battlefield pretty well. Seventeen historical markers, mostly along the Valley Turnpike, interpret the field. Several printed tour guides exist that point out sites well beyond the main road, however. I found the best to be a recent Blue & Gray Magazine article from last year. The battlefield, while mostly private property, is accessible.

The puzzle pieces that I still cannot seem to fit is why Cedar Creek wouldn’t, or hasn’t become a show piece for preservation, at least for the Shenandoah Valley. Limestone? Are we to understand there are simply no other places to mine this rather common sedimentary stone? Is this “magic” limestone?

The limestone vein is reported to be worth $300 million. The going rate of a limestone tabletop is $75 per square foot. Rough figures then we are talking about 4 million square feet of limestone, if all were going to stock home improvement stores. That translates to about 92 acres of land, if all were laid out in a sheet. Common sense says it wouldn’t be that thin. However the quarry operations will extend over some 390 acres. I’m not a geologist, and would differ to a professional opinion, but isn’t that a rather “loose” definition of vein?

With price of oil all the buzz in the news lately, I cannot help but draw a negative comparison with the long running debate over ANWR and the Gulf Coast drilling. Heck, if there’s oil down there under Massanutten, maybe we should drill! Kidding….

Then again, maybe there is another option. When last at the battlefield, I could have swore I noticed a Red Cockaded Woodpecker colony. Also, while my photo is a bit fuzzy, and I’m not trying to alarm any folks, but I may have seen a Polar Bear chasing a heard of Caribou out near the mine. Can’t be sure, but better safe than sorry. Surely there is at least one species of endangered newt, lizard, or bird around southern Frederick County. You’ll excuse me while I finish filling out my donation to the World Wildlife Federation… money that was going to CCBF.

About these ads

4 responses to “Cedar Creek Rantings

  1. When one finds themself knee deep involved in a rezoning of this magnitude, there are many, many factors to consider. The Frederick County Board of Supervisors is the biggest and not necessarily the best understood in this 2nd Battle of Cedar Creek. There have been several proposals that have come forward to the mining company (& to the Board of Sups) adjacent to Cedar Creek Battlefield- from several different preservation groups. The first one, back in 2007 was a shock to the community and was not well received. Below is the proposal:

    Preserve Frederick Crafts Option for Middletown Mining Rezoning
    MIDDLETOWN, VA (October 22, 2007) – After waiting nearly 16 months for O-N Minerals to rework its mining rezoning request near Middletown, the Preserve Frederick citizens’ group sent the company an alternative plan last month that it says would retain mining rights and protect important natural and historic resources. In response, the group said, O-N Minerals continues to stall the project and ignore county residents’ recommendations.
    In 2005, O-N Minerals applied to rezone 639 acres—in two parcels adjacent to its existing limestone mining operations and to the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park—from agriculture to extractive manufacturing land uses, which can include mining, asphalt and cement plants. The Frederick County Planning Commission rejected the rezoning application June 7, 2006 and the company promised to revise the proposal to address County concerns regarding traffic, dust, noise and other impacts.
    A year later, “we just got tired of waiting,” said Preserve Frederick President Wendy Hamilton of Middletown. “This project at this scale would have a major impact on historic Middletown and rural southeastern Frederick County. We started talking this summer about a reasonable alternative,” she said.
    The Preserve Frederick plan preserves the company’s mining rights, while incorporating the County’s recommendations and greatly scaling back the size and scope of the rezoning. Ms. Hamilton said, “Plan B provides mining on the site for at least 30 years, while preserving nearly all the historic battlefield resources, protecting the natural resources on Cedar Creek, and providing a significant buffer against noise, dust and traffic impacts for the neighbors.”
    Specifically, the plan removes the larger parcel from the rezoning, 533 acres on the north end of Middletown.

    AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THIS ARTICLE, THIS PROPOSAL GAVE UP THE SOUTH SIDE AREA CLOSEST TO CEDAR CREEK FOR REZONING. THAT WAS UNACCEPTABLE TO MANY LANDOWNERS WITHIN THE NATIONAL PARK, THE BATTLEFIELD AND EVEN CITIZENS WHO LIVED WITHIN THE COUNTY LINES. THIS PROPOSAL WAS OFFERED UP AGAIN JUST THE WEEK BEFORE THE FINAL VOTE CAME TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. SOME WONDER WHY CCBF HAD TO TAKE A DEFENSIVE STAND- THIS WAS IN PART, ONE OF THE REASONS. THERE IS MUCH MORE TO THIS STORY THAN MOST CARE TO HEAR BUT I DO KNOW THAT THE MEMBERS THAT SIT ON THE BOARD OF CEDAR CREEK BATTLEFIELD FOUNDATION ALSO SIT ON THE BOARDS FOR BELLE GROVE, THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ADVISORY COMMISSION AND PRESERVE FREDERICK. THESE ARE THE PARTNERS THAT WERE ALL WERE WORKING TOGETHER ON THIS LAND REZONING BATTLE. WHAT HAPPENED? COMMUNICATION WAS AT A STANDSTILL- LINES WERE BEING DRAWN IN THE SAND ALRIGHT, BUT NOT AGAINST THE QUARRY-YES, THERE IS MUCH MORE TO THE STORY THAN I HAVE ROOM TO TYPE. I WILL CLOSE BY SAYING THAT THE BOARD, VOLUNTEERS AND COMMUNITY SUPPORTERS FOR CEDAR CREEK BATTLEFIELD FOUNDATION ARE PATRIOTIC PEOPLE WITH HISTORICAL PRESERVATION IN THEIR HEARTS. MANY OF US ARE DESCENDANTS OF SOLDIERS WHO FOUGHT AND DIED THERE. WE DID NOT SUPPORT THE QUARRY IN THIS REZONING, NOR DID WE ‘SELL OUT’ FOR 8 ACRES OF LAND- THIS IS ALL MISTRUTHS.

    –more–

    2-2-2
    the Cedar Creek battlefield, while permitting limestone mining on the southern parcel of 158 acres. This latter parcel is adjacent to the existing mining operation and already impacted visually by it. The plan incorporates all of the County planning staff recommendations, as well as a ban on other extractive manufacturing uses, such as an asphalt or power plant. It includes 200-foot buffers on Cedar Creek and from adjoining landowners, and a soil erosion control plan for the huge dirt mounds created by mining

  2. I’m not so much saying you sold out. I am saying your organization missed the mission. I find it hard to believe, in a world where drilling for a rather high demand resource in some out of the way, obscure segment of our country that practically no citizens will ever visit, can be blocked. Yet it is fine for a mining operation to rip up our heritage, at a site which far many visitors have access, in order to rip out some rather common, every day rock.

    Preservation is a zero defects operation, IMO. Either the target is met, or the failure is complete. Otherwise, some day we will all be touring Cedar Creek much the same way we tour the Battle of Atlanta or Chantilly. Tour those battlefields some time and tell me you leave with any appreciation for the historical event.

  3. I think what is missing is the truth.

    Please refer to Professor Joseph Whitehorne’s report ‘Panic at Cedar Creek’, presented at James Madison University in September 2008. The findings are from an archaeological survey of over 200+ acres at Cedar Creek (which are falling into preservation easement btw) and the report highlights that artifacts found support new findings of troop movement, encampments, and lines formed. For instance, one Union line was formed directly where a group of houses were built in the late 90’s and destroyed this core battlefield area. The surrounding area beyond that destroyed line was not significant, yet was being labeled ‘core’ by preservation groups associated with Plan B, not the volunteer board from Cedar Creek Battlefield. I think the line applies to this travesty of preservationists:

    Self preservation is not historical preservation…

    Cedar Creek is working on preserving over 200+ acres of core area right now, they have secured new view shed remedies for the existing quarry site and have begun projects with a new Visitors Center and theatre. These folks are dedicated, experienced and strong leaders. They have looked at all sides of what took place with the quarry, and since none of us know all of the facts, nor were in on any side’s closed door meetings, we should really hold our tongues until more information continues to be released, and you get all sides from legitimate sources.

  4. Chris,

    First off, if you are going to speak in the premise of “authority” on my site, I would ask that you offer some means of introduction. Perhaps it is an old fashioned Victorian virtue, but I do like when people announce who they are up front, in this case either with a link to their blog/web site, or an introductory statement. I cannot hold a tongue while at the same time allow someone to wag theirs, without knowing where the person is coming from. I don’t like semi-anonymous comments which point fingers. We have enough of those in this political season. This isn’t that kind of blog.

    Facts are facts, the ground in contention was included in the NPS survey of the battlefield area and marked as such. If the intent of the organization in the discussion IS to preserve the battlefield, then the target is what the NPS defined. Arbitrarily deciding something is “insignificant” does not hold true to those objectives. If suddenly the organization wants to have an “Epiphany” about troop movements to justify giving up long standing goals, then I cannot support it. Such information should have been presented months, and arguably years ago.