In Sterling Park, Virginia, there is a park that is a favorite among residents called the Claude Moore Park. This park has natural habitats, a historical area, recreational facilities and educational opportunities.
History of Claude Moore Park
The park was named after Dr. Claude Moore, the last resident to own private land on the area that would eventually become a staple of the Sterling Park community. Dr. Moore was a medical officer during World War I.
Dr. Moore bought the property in 1941 from the Lane family, who had owned the land for 162 years. He owned it until 1975, when he donated his property to the National Wildlife Foundation. So, the land was only owned by two families over its 200 years of being occupied, a rare occurrence even among the thirteen colonies.
Dr. Moore wanted to keep the site as a place where people could learn about and enjoy nature, so when the land was sold to developers in 1986, he fought in the court system to make sure they would not bulldoze the natural beauty.
He was ultimately successful, with the county buying the land from the developers and designating it as a historical park in his name in 1990.
Be sure to stop at the Visitor’s Center to pick up a brochure of the Claude Moore Park Lanesville Area Walking Tour. Take time to walk through the Park and its natural beauty and read the interpretive displays along the way.
The Vestal Gap Road, originally a Native American footpath, became a major route for settlers between Alexandria and Shenandoah Valley pre-revolution and served as a byway for troops in the French and Indian War. The road was named after John Vestal, who ran a ferry where today’s Route 9 crosses into the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Nestled in the park are several historic buildings: the 1779 Revolutionary War-era Lanesville Ordinary, the schoolhouse, and the Frogshackle.
The Ordinary played an important role in the War of 1812, at one point providing temporary housing for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Ordinary is a two story, side gabled frame house with a history that belies its “ordinary” appearance.
The schoolhouse on the property is one of the oldest one-room schoolhouses in Loudon County. The second floor was the residence of the teacher.
Another building of importance is the Frogshackle, a log cabin that today houses the hands-on nature center.
Family Fun and Recreation
There are many picnic areas to enjoy, fishing opportunities, and several hiking trails through the natural habitats, with the longest trail being 3.5 miles. Color-coded markers indicate the trail range from 1/4 to 3 miles. Inside the Visitors Center is a classroom-type arrangement, mirroring the style of the old schoolhouses.
Interpretive programs, classes and camps are offered to encourage children to explore the natural world. Claude Moore Park is ideal for families to picnic and enjoy the great outdoors.
For sports fans, their sportsplex offers baseball, softball, and generic rectangular fields. In fact, the beauty of this park makes it a frequent site of choice for local softball tournaments.
There are also two ponds where fishing is allowed certain times of the year. This park is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy beautiful surroundings and learn the history of the Vestal Gap Road.
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