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Next Stop Northbound: Stanley, Virginia
Photo by Jeff Staples. Permission pending.

Established in 1884, the Town of Shenandoah is situated along the banks of the Shenandoah River in Page County, Virginia.  

The Shenandoah stop is significant in many ways.  First of all Shenandoah had a significant rail yard designed to accommodate a prosperous freight and coal business.  It also had a large roundhouse.  In 1943 the yard was rebuilt, including new engine service facilities.  The lubritorium was unique because war time restrictions prevented it from being built of brick. 

Times were not always good.  At one point 11 stalls of the round house were dismantled and rebuilt in another town.  Prior to World War II the Shenandoah rail yard suffered many accidents too, from firemen being scalded during repair of injector pipes to gangways giving way.  In 1917 the roundhouse burned down.  

Two years later, in 1919, a 21-stall roundhouse was built to replace the one that burned.  

There is a fabulous photo essay of steam engines in Shenandoah, Virginia on the newly redesigned Town of Shenandoah website.

Photo provided with the permission of the VT ImageBase

There was also a roundhouse in Shenandoah.

Photo provided with the permission of the VT ImageBase

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History of Shenandoah

Note: This is a re-print if you will of historical information on the Town of Shenandoah's website as it appeared on Dec 27, 2009 11:36:40 GMT. The current website states it had been hacked and the original content is no longer available.  So, for the purpose of preserving this well written historical synopsys on the Town of Shenandoah, Virginia, I have taken the liberty of reproducing it here.  According to the cache page was last modified on July 16, 2008 at 6:68 PM.

The following information was collected, assembled, and written by Louise Lauck-Ranson with due acknowledgment to the following:
  • Letters by the Rev. A.P. Boude
  • History of the Valley by Kercheval
  • Massanutten Pilgrim by Harry M. Strickler
  • Virginia Valley Records by Dr. John W. Wayland

History of Shenandoah

Again appreciation is expressed to many of our towns people for their cooperation and most especially to the following five men who gave invaluable information nowhere else recorded:
  • Mr. Will H. Strickler, Shenandoah, VA
  • Mr. John William Comer, Shenandoah, VA
  • Mr. J. Sam Lauck, Shenandoah, VA
  • Mr. H. C. Bickers, Shenandoah, VA
  • Mr. Bob Watson, Shenandoah, VA


The Daughter of the Sky, The Daughter of the Stars, reasoned the poetic minded Indians as they gazed at a waterfall tumbling from the top of a cliff in Brock’s Gap. Today white man treasures the possession of the word, Shenandoah the name of our town.

This word was first translated into our language Gerando. Later it was changed to Sherandoah, today we use the spelling Shenandoah.

The Valley of Virginia was inhabited by the Catawba tribe of Indians. These Catawba Indians were bedecked with ornaments of gold and silver indicating their knowledge of the location of these ores. Other tribes sought this knowledge but the Catawbas kept the origin of their wealth a profound secret.

A tribe of Delaware Indians invaded  this Catawba domain. A bloody battle followed but the Delawares gave way leaving the Catawbas victorious in their defense. Tradition explains the presence of many arrowheads and burial grounds nearby to these conflicts between the invading Delawares and defending Catawbas.

A German explorer, John Lederer, came to the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1669. He viewed the Shenandoah Valley hemmed on the eastern and western borders by an array of mountain ridges extending northward and southward as far as the eye could see. Reposing lengthwise in the center of this valley lay the Peaked Mountain or Massanutten Mountain. Between Jon Lederer and this Peaked Mountain lay a prairie across which wound the Shenandoah River, the beautiful Daughter of the Stars. On the east bank of the river the forest primeval waved its proud and haughty branches. Here the red men master of all surveyed, lived, loved, and passed on.

Another explorer with a group of friends who were English noblemen, crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains, came down into the Shenandoah Valley and crossed the south fork of the Shenandoah River. On September 5, 1716 Governor Alexander Spotswood buried a bottle on the west bank of the river. This bottle contained a statement that he was taking possession of this forest and prairie in the name of King George I of England.

At this time, in 1722 the whites and the Indians met peaceably at Albany, New York, to make terms for friendly living. The Indians agreed to move their north-south road from the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west side of those same mountains. This gave to our present Page Valley the important Indian road which passed through here.

In 1726, Adam Miller, a German came to make his home in this garden spot of the world. He received his land patent through a Swiss land agent, Jacob Stover. He came here in a covered wagon from Pennsylvania and built a log house four miles south of the spot where the town of Shenandoah is now situated. The homestead is still standing, occupied through the intervening years by descendants of Adam Miller.

In 1733 St. Peter’s Lutheran Church was founded on Naked Creek. It is the second oldest Lutheran congregation in the state. In 1747 it was moved to the west side of the Shenandoah River near Humes Run, one and one half miles west of the river where the old St. Peter’s Church Building now stands. Under the pulpit was found the name of its builder, Christian Konrad, and the names of the building committee, John Mueller (Miller), William Beiderfisch, John Ziegler, Frederick Ziegler, and Gerhard Koyte (probably pronounced George Kite).

Jacob Stover the Swiss land agent sold land in 1735 to George Boone, Uncle of Daniel Boone, on the west side of the river opposite the Bear Lithia Springs. Jacob Stover married Sarah Boone, aunt and only teacher of Daniel Boone. Jacob and Sarah Boone Stover lived near St. Peter’s Church, one and a half miles west of Shenandoah.

Again in 1744, the whites and the Indians met peaceably at Lancaster, Pennsylvania for more treaties. The Indians agreed to move their famous road from the east side of the Massanutten Peaked Mountain to the west side. Thus in 1744 this great highway, the artery of the north-south travel, was moved away from us forever. It has become known these two hundred years later as the famed Valley Pike.

By this time the Fairfax line was the cause of dispute and contention. A group of forty or more commissioners, surveyors, and laborers were sent by the King of England and Lord Thomas Fairfax to re-survey the extent of land granted to Lord Thomas Fairfax. This “little army”, including the father of Thomas Jefferson, started at Port Republic  and came through here on their way to resurvey the Fairfax line. In 1746 this line was declared to be ten miles north of here. So Shenandoah City is located south of the Lord Fairfax patent.

The Indians lived very peacefully at all times except the period known as the French and Indian War, from 1754 to 1763. At this time they seemed restless. There were massacres a few miles to the north and to the south of us. Many thought that these massacres were incited by the French.

There is proof of both horse racing and fox chasing being enjoyed by our neighbors to the south and southwest.

In 1767 St. Peter’s Church, one and one half miles west of here, had for two of its Reformed Elders, Henry Miller, son of Adam Miller, and Jacob Bear son-in-law of Adam Miller. In 1777 the old church building was abandoned and the present St. Peter’s Church was built.

As the years passed, family names of present citizens appear rapidly. In 1752 a tract of land was granted to Captain Henry Price signed by King George III of England. This grant of land extended north to Chainey hollow. The name, Burten Smith, appears as early as 1790. There was quite a settlement  around Grindstone Mountain east of us, most of whom bore the family name of Meadows. A family named Blakemore lived here early in 1800. A daughter, Nancy Blakemore, born in 1820 and died in 1841, lies buried in the Methodist Cemetery. The marker to her grave is an iron slab. Other bodies buried at that time which have been taken up and moved away had both iron markers and iron vaults. A deed dated 1837 shows land deeded from a Mr. Harness to a Mr. Smith.

One hundred and three years ago, two brothers Daniel and Henry Forrer, came here from Pennsylvania. They purchased from Samuel Gibbens on November 4, 1837, the Jacob Conrad land sold by Jacob Conrad to Samuel Gibbens on April 4, 1837. The Forrer brothers began iron mining operations and were the Tubal Cains of Shenandoah. The first post office was established here immediately on February 20, 1838, with Henry Forrer as postmaster and under the name of Shenandoah Iron works.

Ten log houses were built in a row in Furnace Hollow and four double houses were built on the hill of the present Methodist Cemetery facing the river. All of these houses were built by a Mr. Pee Dee, hence the name applied to that part of town.

There was another log house built by Captain Henry Cooke on First Street north of Junior Avenue. This house will be remembered by many who are present. There were slave quarters built for the slaves owned by Captain Cooke. Mr. Garnet Brown’s home was built in 1867, by Propes. The flood waters in 1870 were ten feet deep at this house.

The part of Shenandoah known as Miller’s Addition is part of the tract of land owned by his uncle, John Cook. John Cook bought this land from Adam Painter, February 16, 1829.

In 1855 the Forrer brothers built the large twenty two room brick house on the river. These bricks were imported from England. This house is still in good condition. Many trees were cut for fuel and for building material. As the forest was cleared away the size of the farm increased.

At Catherine Furnace iron ore was melted with charcoal and made into cast iron called pig iron. Using six mule teams, the Forrers brought this cast iron to Shenandoah where it was melted and made into blooms. This furnace was on the river bank directly north of the present filter plant. For many years there was a rock smoke stack on the river on the north side of the dam similar to the one seen at Catherine Furnace today. These three furnaces, Catherine, No. 2, and Shenandoah were much alike, and with the forge here comprised what was operated by Daniel and Henry Forrer as Shenandoah Iron Works. There was a forge near the east end of the river bridge where this iron was melted and hammered out into articles, blocks, or blooms of wrought iron. The old anvil and tongs may be seen in the Methodist Cemetery today. All of this work was done by hand. Many slaves were hired out by their masters to the Forreres’ to work in the mines, in the furnaces, and at the forge. Many slaves came from east of the Blue Ridge in Madison and Greene Counties to work. They lived in houses built by the Forrers’, received their living from the Forrer store, and the remainder of their wages were sent back to their master owners. After the Civil War in 1861-1865 when these Negroes became free, they remained here, bought their land and houses, and continued to live at the edge of town. Frank Ward, Henry Wright, and Angus Jones will be remembered as some of these Negroes. There is a large colored cemetery there today.

All of the iron was transported by six-mule teams to Harrisonburg or by flat boats on the Shenandoah River. These boats were made of two inch boards seventy six feet long, two feet wide, and fourteen inches high. They were made north of the mouth of Naked Creek, loaded here and floated down the river to Harpers Ferry, and later to Front Royal, where the load was transferred to a railway train. Two men went on each boat. When these men sold their load of one hundred ten blooms or fifteen tons of pig iron, the pig iron sold for fifty five dollars a ton. Mr. Hamp Miller contracted for the transportation of the iron by flat boat. Eight or ten flatboats comprised a fleet. One fleet left town per week. Mr. Miller had these boats made, valued at $25.00 each. He hired two men per boat for the weeks trip. He usually cleared a profit of $300.00 per fleet per week. Mr. Will Strickler had charge one of the boats in the fleet for ten or twelve years. They sold their flat boat at $8.00 for lumber and walked home. The time for the trip home by boat was estimated at twenty four hours. There were only two or three stores to stop for food during the walk home.

During the War Between the States from 1861-1865 the Confederate Government built and operated a gunpowder plant here. This gunpowder plant was built on the west side of the Shenandoah River  one mile north of the river bridge. The dam in the river which made water power possible may still be seen. The local people for miles around dug the dirt under their buildings to a depth of eight or ten inches and sold it to this gunpowder factory.

The chief contact that the immediate vicinity of Shenandoah had with the war was the shipping by flatboat of the cannon balls made at No. 2 Furnace, the gunpowder plant already mentioned, and the work at the forge hammering iron into blooms to be shipped.

During this while the river was crossed by fording or by ferrying. The ferry which served the people of our town as they went to church services at St. Peters Church crossed south of the present river bridge.

Our town experienced its greatest single event in 1886, in the arrival of the Honorable William Milnes, Jr. and Mr. Thomas Johns. In 1867 they purchased thirty two thousand acres including the Forrer Iron Works known as the Shenandoah Iron Works. They continued the Forrer Iron Works but introduced patented tools and machinery.

Mr. William Milnes brought with him Mr. J.R. Deacon, a lawyer from Pennsylvania, to examine the titles of land to keep all transactions legal. Mr. Deacon’s daughter , Martha, had married Mr. E.P.G. Yocum and Mr. Deacon brought them to Shenandoah with him. The seventh son of E.P.G. Yocum was Dr. Alfred Wolfe Yocum who is serving now as a medical missionary in China. The Deacon and Yocum families started the present Shenandoah Baptist Church.

Our first country doctor, came soon after Mr. Milnes arrival. He was Dr. John Amos. He lived south of Naked Creek in the house in which Dr. Denton Koontz now lives. Later, Dr. Alfred L. Wolfe who had married Mr. William Milnes’ daughter Bessie, came to town. They built the present 410 Third St for their home.

Mr. W.T. Miller and Mr. J.H. Miller carried mail on horseback from Luray three times a week. Their stops were Luray, Leaksville, Alma, Honeyville, Grove Hill, and Shenandoah Iron Works. The mail for Elkton, then known as Conrad’s Store was taken there from here.

Mr. William Milnes, Jr. preached and organized a Sabbath School at nine on Sunday morning for the whites and at three on Sunday afternoon for the colored people. This was the beginning of our Methodist organization. In 1867, this group was recognized as a part of the East Rockingham Circuit, of the Baltimore Conference.

In December 1869 Mr. John Fields, a member of the Furnace Company and his family moved here from Pennsylvania. The next year, 1870, Mr. & Mrs. John Fields erected a church building for the Methodist Congregation and gave this building to them. This church building at the northern end of the Methodist Cemetery served as a place of worship for the Methodist until they out grew it and moved in 1921 to their new Fields Methodist Church on Pennsylvania Avenue.

About 1869 the Masonic Lodge was organized on the second floor of Houch’s Store. Their charter was rescued from the flood waters in 1870.

Due to the location of the forge and the furnace on the river most of the buildings of this new town were along the east bank of the Shenandoah River. Quite the worst tragedy of our town’s history occurred on September 29, 1870, when the flood waters of the Shenandoah washed away most of the handwork of our towns people. From thirty to sixty buildings were completely destroyed. This loss included the manufacturing buildings, machinery, offices, stables large store, warehouse, river bridge, flour mill, and some of the best residences. The land was washed and torn beyond recognition. The loss of the Furnace company alone was over one hundred thousand dollars. The second floor of the company store, managed by Mr. J.P. Jouch, was used for public gatherings, lodge meetings, and church services. There was a belfry and a church bell. The populace was stunned by the mournful tolling of this church bell as the building rocked and swayed, journeying slowly down the river on the crest of the flood waters.

After the flood the new homes built for our wealthy citizens were spacious and artistic. The wide porches , level lawns, and a grove of shade trees made a lovely picture. These three frame houses faced the river north of the large brick house.

Industrial activities continued. At Fox Mountain Mine the iron ore which was found near the surface of the ground was easily accessible and easily transported.

Our first free public schools made their appearance at this time. Mr. P. Jefferson Propes built the first free school. Squire Brown was the first public school teacher. Some of the other teachers were Parson G.W. Brown, father of Mr. Lorenzo Brown, and Mr. Frank Rinaca, father of U.S. Rinaca. This school served many years and was known as the Propes School. This building is now occupied by Mr. Jim Tenant. A second building was erected to accommodate the school. Both were located on the hill north of the Norfolk and Western arch over Junior Avenue.  The first building still stands but the second one is torn down. Mr. Propes served as a school trustee for many years. There were many private schools before and after this period.

Mr. Milnes riding his black horse, Dexter, was a familiar sight to everyone. He galloped many miles these busy days. During the next ten years Mr. Milnes worked unceasingly with the influential leaders between Roanoke and Hagerstown trying to get a railroad built through this valley. He saw his dreams come true in 1880, when the building of the railroad began in Hagerstown. The railroad reached Shenandoah Iron Works in 1881. It was completed to Roanoke in 1882 and was known as the Shenandoah Valley Railroad. The telegraph line was built as the railroad was built. Mr. Calley Walker helped survey for this railroad, and Mr. Hubert C. Bickers served as assistant road master from Rileyville to Cold Springs during the operation of the railroad by that company.

Rucker’s Meat Shop owned and operated by Mr. Frank Rucker was started by 1870 through the influence of Mr. Milnes. This meat shop is continued by a son, Mr. R.E. Rucker, and has served the citizens of town through the seventy years since.

Dr. W.A. Koontz located two miles north in 1879. His country practice continued for fifty years.

Lumbering was an important industry due to the great demand for fuel and building material. As the land was cleared of timber Mr. Milnes increased the size of his farm which extended eastward to Tenth Street. This farm was managed by James Pulliam.

Mr. D. S. Louderback, father of Miss Fannie Louderback, and a Mr. Huddleson owned and operated a large planning mill. It was located on Pee Dee from 1182 to 1888 and on Junior Avenue and First Street from 1888 to 1890.

When the railroad was assured Honorable William Milnes, Jr. borrowed $800,000.00 from northern friends and erected the Big Gem Cast Iron Furnace under the name of the Shenandoah Iron, Lumber, Mining, and Manufacturing Company. Big Gem with its great boilers, large casting room, and high smoke stacks was completed in 1882. Later the name of the company changed to Shenandoah Furnace Company, later still to Empire Street and Iron Company and today the so called Furnace Company bears the name Allegheny Ore and Iron company.

On June 27, 1882, the name of our post office was changed from Shenandoah Iron Works to Milnes.

An act of the General Assembly of the State of Virginia was passed on February 12, 188, to incorporate this town. It bore the name, Milnes, in honor of Honorable William Milnes, Jr. This town of Milnes in the County of Page was incorporated with the following nine trustees or councilmen: Mr. Clarence H. Price, Mr. Frank Nieland, Colonel R.E. Brooks, Mr. James Pulliam, Dr. S. Arthur Austin, Mr. John P. Brown, Mr. I.A. Bricker, Mr. P.J. Propes, Mr. John W. Coverstone.

Mr. Frank Nieland served as the first mayor, Dr. S. Arthur Austin served as second mayor, Mr. John P. Brown, third mayor, and Mr. I.A. Bricker, the fourth mayor.

The first corporate limits of the town of Milnes have never been changed. They remain the corporate limits of Shenandoah City today. Coverstone Addition, Miller’s Addition, and Edinburg each bearing a family name, were farms until 1890.

The front street or Main Street continued from Maryland Avenue to Junior Avenue on the east side of the railroad. There was a bridge on Main Street across Virginia avenue and another to the present YMCA. Both were high enough to drive a wagon underneath. These bridges served about ten years during the eighties. Poles were laid along the streets over the town for curbing and were filled in with engine cinder for sidewalks.

In 1884 twenty five of the members of St. Peter’s Church transferred their memberships to the town of Milnes and continued their organization under the name of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. They dedicated a church building on Third Street between Maryland Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. In 1937 this same organization moved to its present structure on Central Avenue and Fourth Street.

Mr. Milnes gave a building lot to each church denomination to be used for a church building. He gave sixty acres of land to the railroad company to be used for the terminal shops. He gave the lots on Third Street for the public schools.

Our town claimed the attention of other valley towns by its signal lights which were seen regularly each time a kettle of red hot cinder was poured down the cinder bank at Big Gem. This occurred every six hours, at 10:00 am, 4:00pm, 10:00pm, and 4:00am. Naturally, the 10:00pm “pour” was the town’s chief advertisement.

Shenandoah was called the” Pittsburgh of the Valley”. The brass whistle which called the two twelve hour shifts to and from work sounded similar to our N&W Shop whistle.

At the same time Big Gem was built ten frame houses were built along the south side of the furnace. These were built for furnace laborers. Only one of these houses remains today.

Big Gem owned two yard engines. One bought in 1882 was regular size, built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1876 at the Altoona shops. The other one bought in 1890 was a “dinky” engine, dubbed “Maggie”, using the standard sixe track, built in England by the Hull Locomotive Company. Spurs of the railroad were built to Big Gem, Number Two Furnace, Fox Mountain Mine, and Smith Ore. The Fox Mountain Mine was near the surface. Boyer was deep in the ground making an elevator shaft necessary. Boyer mine was found in 1883 by William T. Short. The first superintendent of the mine was a Mr. Boyer, hence the name. The output of cast iron at Big Gem reached one hundred ten tons daily.

When the town was incorporated in 1884 lamps burning kerosene served to light our streets. About twenty five of these lamps were placed about town at street corners. About ten years later the business men of First Street installed an acetylene gas plant furnishing gas lights for the business firms on Front Street.

Many brick kilns were kept busy. There was one where Mr. Elmer Print’s house now stands owned by a Mr. Coffman which operated from 1881 to 1884. When the clay supply was exhausted he moved a half mile south near the old reservoir.  This kiln operated in 1885. Mr. Coffman furnished most of the brick for Big Gem. For many years Mr. R.T. Kingree, grandfather of Mrs. Harry M. Davis, operated a kiln one mile south. Mr. Kingree furnished the brick for the first Shenandoah Public School. Another brick kiln was between Tenth and Eleventh Streets. One was located near the river.

On the land on Third Street donated by Mr. Milnes was built a public school in 1884, the same year of its incorporation. Two teachers opened school on January 1, 1885. Although the brick building was two stories high having two rooms on each floor, it remained a two teacher school about ten years. In 1896 four teachers were serving. Some of the teachers who served in the early years of this school are Major Walker, Miss Sydney Graves, Dr. E.Y. Hudson, Mr. Amherst Beach, Mr. E.L. Keyser, Mr. Burke, Mr. Sheepe, Miss Almyra Brown, Mr. Pete Good, Mr. Kline, and Mr. Lincoln.

Another brick building to be built in 1884 was the first Masonic Hall known by many as the Old Milnes Hotel. This building had three stories.

The year 1884 was memorable because of another incident. Fire destroyed the company stables on the river. Sixty four mules burned. Some of our citizens remember this as our most horrible fire.

In 1885 the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows was organized. In1886 and 1887 Dr. Reynolds a dentist came from Luray certain days a week to serve. In 1888 Dr. W.B. Sprinkel, father of the late Dr. C.C. Sprinkel, became our first resident dentist.

During this time our first drugstore was opened by Dr. Arthur Austin and Dr. Alfred L. Wolfe who succeeded Dr. John Amos. This drugstore was located on first street between Virginia Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. These two doctors married two of Mr. Milnes daughters. Later there was another drugstore between Pennsylvania Avenue and Maryland Avenue known as Coyner and Hanger Drugstore.

The earliest telephones were in Welfrey’s General Merchandise Store and Coyner and Hangers Drugstore in 1888. These telephones were on a Luray county line.

Our first insurance agent and real estate broker began service in 1889. This was Colonel R.A. Bickers. These services have been continued by his son Mr. H.C. Bickers. Our first lawyer was Colonel R/A/ Bickers who succeeded by Mr. Jacob C. Luse, later by Luther A. Lohr, and then by Mr. H.C. Bickers. Two of our citizens have served in the State Legislature. These two are Honorable William Milnes, Jr. and Honorable David S. Louderback.

Fifty years ago in 1890 our town experienced sudden and rapid growth known as “The Boom”. The Land Improvement Company incited this great boost and advertisement.

The name of the post office was changed on March 8, 1890 from Milnes to Shenandoah. The name of the town was changed by an Act of the General Assembly from Milnes to Shenandoah City.

During the ensuing years modesty had bade us drop the last part of our name leaving Shenandoah alone.

This Land Improvement Company bought much land in the outlying districts and made a “Big Survey” of the entire corporate limits as well as their own land. The streets were staked, a map made, and a spectacular land sale conducted. One lot on Tenth Street sold for $2000.00.

Many buildings were erected by the Land Improvement Company. Among these were four large brick buildings on Maryland Avenue. The Skating Rink on the south side remains today. Three others on the north side were the Masonic Hall of today in the first block, another in the third block and one in the fourth block. The offices for this company were in the second block. This building is now used as a residence by Misses Mamie and Edna Stevens. A large carriage factory and furniture factory was built on the hill south of the N & W Track on PeeDee.  Machinery was installed, but it was never operated.

A very large frame hotel known as “The Shenandoah” was built on the crest of the hill on First street south of Maryland Avenue. This hotel burned in 1891 and was rebuilt the next year. However it was never operated as a hotel but served as an apartment house for ten years after which it was torn down and moved away.

There was a great advance in the value of land. Many other buildings were erected. A large planing mill owned and operated by Mr. John Plum on Ninth Street back of Denver Avenue was kept busy. A boardwalk was laid from First Street to Seventh Street. In the next few years boardwalks were laid over most of the town. The first river bridge was built across the Shenandoah River and was a toll bridge for many years.

Many residences were built by the company. Some of these were bought and occupied, some bought and moved away whole, and some were torn down and moved away.

A brick kiln operated north of the Big gem Furnace under the name of the Shenandoah Brick Company. Bricks were molded and pressed by machinery. This kiln was destroyed by fire in 1891.

Broad Hall was built for Mr. Flickwir’s home. He was active in the land Improvement Company, Furnace company and Railroad Company.

The Furnace Company built a huge rolling mill on the river and railroad. Machinery was installed but it was never operated.

A city Young Men’s Christian Association was organized with a Mr. Grubbs as secretary. This organization was active several years.

The Norfolk and Western Railway Company took over the Shenandoah Valley Railroad during the year 1891, and the line  had progressed noticeably ever since.

The Episcopal Church was organized in 1891 and erected on Fifth Street between Maryland Avenue and Shenandoah Avenue. Sixteen years later it was moved to its present site on Third Street and Denver Avenue.

About this time Mr. W.T. Miller started his mercantile business. Mr. Dallas Koontz operated a meat wagon. Later he had a meat shop where, Mr. Hubert Bickers office now stands. After the fire he had his shop in the U.S. Rothgeb building on Main Street. In 1892 Sr. E.Y. Hudson installed the first soda fountain. Its trade was comprised of women, children, and few church members. The remaining business was distributed among the five bar rooms.

In 1895 two churches were organized, the Baptist, and the United Brethren. The United Brethren began their building on Sixth Street between Shenandoah Avenue and Maryland Avenue but it moved before completion to the present site on north Second Street and Central Avenue. The G. J. Strickler Store began serving the public during this year. Mr. Charley Dann opened a bakery on First Street between Virginia Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. About this time the Christian Church was organized and built at its present location on Third Street between Denver Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.

In 1896 fire destroyed the business section from where the post office is now located, around Miller’s corner, to the present bank. A small residence was dynamited to stop the fire, this saving the Bear building now owned by Mr. Claude Hammer. A flood in the same year washed away the east half of the river bridge. Temporary steps were built to the remaining half of the river bridge, which served pedestrians for the next twelve years.

On August 14, 1896, the Milnes Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star was organized by the Maryland Grand Chapter. This was the third chapter to be organized in Virginia but today it is the oldest as the second charter to be granted was forfeited.  The Eastern Star Chapter at Shenandoah is older than the Grand Chapter of Virginia.

At the close of 1899 two rooms were added to the public school in a frame, east of all making a six room school.

A large house located on Pennsylvania Avenue was torn down in 1902. This spacious house was built for the home of Mr. Milnes’ nephew. Its gently sloping lawn and huge shade trees made it a place of beauty.

Many times our streets were made more serviceable by spreading over them a layer of cinder from the cinder bank at Big Gem.

Our bank was organized in 1903. It was established as the Bank of Shenandoah with Mr. George Kite as president, and the following ten directors: Dr. W.B. Sprinkel, Mr. W.T. Miller, Mr. D.W. Wyant, Mr. G.W. Warthen, Mr. H.E. Roudabush, Mr. J.S. Lauck, Mr. W.S. Long, Mr. Isaac Shuler, Mr. John W. Foltz, and Mr. G.J. Strickler.

About this time Mr. Jake Best and Mr. Tom Beaghan bought the brick building known as the Skating Rink from the Land Improvement Company. They started a foundry and made many of the water taps which were installed in 1906. About 1907 they bought a moving picture machine and showed movies upstairs three nights a week and operated a skating rink the other three nights. After about four years Mr. Charles Lowe bought and moved this machine to the present Masonic Hall and showed movies downstairs periodically for a year or more. In 1913 Mr. W.S. Long and Mr. W.O. Huddle began operating an Opera House in the present IOOF Hall and continued to do so for six years, having movies, road shows, and local talent programs. About 1920 Mr. W.S. Long built the Pastime Theater at the location of the present Shenandoah Theater.

Fifteen years later this Bank of Shenandoah became our First National Bank of Shenandoah. Dr. B.C. Shuler graduated medicine and began practice here in the same year, which was 1903.

1904 saw another fire destroy the business section from the Booten Store building to the Mill Store. This fire destroyed three hotels and two store rooms. Mr. W.S. Sullivan opened this store in Miller Addition during this year.

During this busy period Dr. and Mrs. J.M. Ropp came here to live and serve. Dr. Ropp is remembered as the family physician of many. Mrs. Susan Hortenstine Ropp was nationally known for her speeches in favor of passing the Prohibition Law. She spent much of her time through the years touring the country in behalf of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  She was known as “The Silver Tongued Orator of the South”. After prohibition law was passed she devoted much of her time in the ministry as an evangelist.

The town of Shenandoah City installed a Steam Electric Power Plant and Water System in 1906 with Mr. J.S. Lauck as its superintendent. The street intersections were lighted with electric arc lamps burning sticks of carbon. These arc lamps were replaced in 1918 by the present incandescent street lamps.

Immediately after the installation  of the Municipal Water System a Volunteer Fire Company was organized. This company has been very active ever since making commendable showing at the State Firemen’s Convention each year. They own several silver cups which they have won by expert teamwork. This company now owns a very modern fire truck containing an engine and a five hundred gallon tank.

During this year of 1906 a Mutual Telephone Company installed telephone service between Elkton and Shenandoah. The first telephone switchboard was in G.W. Warthern’s Store. There were two line, one line to Luray and one to Elkton. The Switchboard connected or disconnected two lines. The second switchboard had ten lines. This was installed in the home of Mr. J.S. Lauck in 1907 with Mrs. Rosa Louderback  the first operator. This switchboard was discarded two years later when a central office on First Street was equipped.`

A livery stable renting riding horses and horse drawn carriages was kept busy. Mr. J. Frank Orye was owner and manager of a livery stable for many years.

Mr. H.E. Roudabush began mercantile business here in 1906. Mr. Billy Long built an ice plant and began its operation. The next year the Big Gem  Furnace discontinued operation. Gradually parts were sold and moved away, and finally dismantled.

In 1907-1908 a flour mill was opened by D.F. Roudabush. This was later owned by the Shenandoah Milling Company which built on the present site with Mr. A.A. Roudabush as manager.

At his time two rooms were added to the public school in a brick north ell.

In 19058 the Baptist Church was built on Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourth Street. It was dedicated on completion.

In 1912 the Norfolk and Western Railway Company installed a telephone system for dispatching trains. By 1913 the Boy Scout House was built and in use. In 1914 the Apostolic Mission was organized. The congregation has since moved from their building on Seventh Street to a new one in the Third Block on Shenandoah Avenue. In 1914 Mr. K.L. Foster  began his mercantile business.

In November 1916 Norfolk and Western Railway suffered loss by fire. The Round House and Machine Shop building were destroyed. Following this fire a broad program of reconstruction with modern facilities and equipment was begun. A new 21 stall round house was completed in the spring of 1918. A large power house and a modern shop were completed during 1925.

The public school building facing Fourth Street was ready for occupancy in 1917. This structure had twelve rooms and a large auditorium. The old 8-room building was sold and occupied by several families.

In 1918 Shenandoah City installed a filter plant for the water system. They also built a dam in the river to furnish hydroelectric power for our town. The power house was erected on the center of the dam.

In 1919 we saw the beginning of Hisey’s Pharmacy, Mr. J.L. Foltz’s Men’s Clothing Store, and Hockman’s Coal and Lumber Yard.

A few years later Mr. John Whiteside started the “Clothes Hospital”. Three merchants, Mr. Guy Hoch, Mr. Clarence Foltz, and Mr. Walter Davis opened stores.

In 1922 Dr. J.J. Waff came here to practice medicine. In 1923 the Griffith Brothers moved their store from Virginia Avenue to First Street. About this time C. Heath and Sister bought the millinery store from Mr. & Mrs. S.E. Long. Mr. Garnet Brown bought the meat market. By this time the school building on Fourth Street had overflowed. The old eight room building on Third Street was reclaimed in 1923 and became the location of the public high school department of the public school. The Fourth Street building was used for the elementary department.

In 1924 Shenandoah City paid toll to nature again in damage done by flood to the dam and the power house. Repairs to this damage were made, the power house moved to the present site, and a water tank  placed on Tenth Street. Dr. E.M. Cummings began to serve as our dentist in this year. The State Highway Department of Virginia built the Highway from Naked Creek to Grove Hill at this time. This highway passed through town on Fourth Street.

Two industries made their appearance in 1925 the Casey Jones Overall Factory employing fifty or more and the Shenandoah Bakery owned and managed by Mr. U.S. Rinaca.

In this year of 1925 another fire razed the Shenandoah Mill, Huffman’s Garage, and a store building. All three were replaced.

Our town sold its hydroelectric light and water system in 1927 to the Massanutten Power Corporation. That company opened the Electric Store that same year.

A new school building for the high school department was completed in 1936. This modern structure represents the untiring efforts of our former school Superintendent, Mr. Harry B. Hanger, as he labored to elevate school conditions in Shenandoah.

The Virginia Telephone and Telegraphy Company bought the telephone system in 1931 from the Page Valley Mutual Telephone Company. The Knitting Mill was built and began employment of our youth in 1938.

During the past eight years our streets have been hard surfaced and many hundreds of feet of concrete sidewalks have been placed.

The growth of Shenandoah City can best be envisioned by our United States Census reports:

You have heard her wondrous story, how she served this land of glory, serves through children scattered far, serves “The Daughter of the Stars”.

The Shenandoah Heritage Center, Inc. was founded to help preserve the traditions and historical aspects of the Town of Shenandoah and the surrounding area. We are a non-profit organization with a membership dedicated to this preservation effort.

We own and maintain the 1890 building known as Stevens Cottage and a restored 1917 Norfolk & Western railroad caboose. Stevens Cottage has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Click on link to see if your house is included in the Shenandoah Historic District 

National Register of Historic Places:  (Adobe reader pdf file)

We also host a satellite office of the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce for visitors to our community.


For more information contact:                     Shenandoah Heritage Center Post Office Box 122 Shenandoah Virginia 22849




Copyright © The Town of Shenandoah, Virginia