On June 3rd, Vault Field Vineyards hosted an event put on by Westmoreland County Museum in tribute to its members. The event was organized by Museum Educational Program Director, Alice French, and was complete with live piano performance by Beth Parker. Around 30 members attended and enjoyed tastings of Vault Field’s wines, as well as a tour of the vineyard and winery.
The property was purchased in 2004 by Keith and Joanne Meenan who now operate the vineyard and winery with the help of their son, Dan. The family planted their first 4,000 vines in 2005, their second 4,000 in 2006, and celebrated their first vintage at the end of 2006. The processing of the grapes and wine, as well as the bottling, is done entirely on site. Between the three of them and the help of a few seasonal workers, they produce between 1,600 and 1,700 cases…
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Looking for that perfect park or campground to visit that’s well maintained, offers a variety of fun, outdoor activities, and has spectacular scenic views? Consider your search over upon discovering Westmoreland State Park, selected as one of America’s Top 50 scenic views. Opened in 1936, the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program dedicated to conservation care. The park is located just minutes away from the birthplaces of both George Washington and Robert E. Lee.
Perfectly positioned on the Potomac River, Westmoreland State Park is known for its water attractions. In fact, in 2008 it was selected as one of America’s Top 25 canoeing spots. The staff leads kayak and paddle boat trips, as well as rent them out individually, down to Fossil Beach, where visitors can sift for and find sharks’ teeth, whale bones, and pre-historic fossils. There is also a power boat…
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George Washington’s Birthplace, part of the National Park Service, offers an entertaining and educational adventure in one of Virginia’s most beautiful and historical settings. The park is located along Pope’s Creek, which neighbors the Potomac River, and the water can be seen glistening through the cedars from almost any point in the park. A memorial obelisk marks the park’s entrance leading to the historical grounds, picnic area, and visitor center.
The park’s main attraction, the historical area, was created in 1932 as part of the bicentennial celebration of George Washington’s birth. The historical plantation buildings can all be viewed by walking along a crushed oyster shell path that loops through the grounds, although you might have to share the path with the numerous butterflies weaving in and out. Along the loop you’ll first pass the tobacco garden, right outside of the animal barn where sheep can be seen grazing in…
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There is much evidence at Menokin of human impact on the land. The example below demonstrates that there were tobacco rolling roads on the Menokin plantation. These roads allowed for barrels filled with tobacco to be easily transported to the river. After these barrels were rolled down these roads to Cat Point Creek, they were shipped off to be sold in various markets.
These tobacco rolling roads were built to hasten the process of transporting tobacco and further the success of the plantation. The enslaved men and women at Menokin most likely dug these roads, evidence of which you now see today.
The landscape holds traces of history everywhere. These rolling roads demonstrate that the actions of people centuries ago are still with us today. Even though the forest looks wild, upon closer look you can see the imprint of Frank’s decisions and the labor of slaves.
These tobacco rolling roads helped advance the commercial interests of Menokin. Can you see how people use land today to enhance one’s business? What other ways do people impact and distort the land?
Are you sad the cherry blossoms are no longer in bloom? Do you still need that tree fix?! At Menokin, there are an abundance of tree species to see. In fact, you can download our tree guide and learn about over 30 species of trees while enjoying a nice walk on our nature trail. Bring some friends and your dog and experience these natural wonders!
First, let’s test your tree knowledge! Do you know what tree this is? (Hint: it is the Virginia state tree)
It’s a flowering dogwood tree (Cornus Florida)! Actually, the white or pink “flowers” of the flowing dogwood tree are bracts, or specialized leaves, that surround a cluster of tiny yellowish flowers. The dogwood tree is beautiful all year round. The white or pink “flowers” that bloom in the spring give way to bright, red leaves in the fall. The flowering dogwood is abundant in the Eastern United States. 
Can you name this tree?
It’s a Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron Tulipfera)! The tulip poplar is one of the largest of the native trees to the Eastern seaboard. Native Americans and colonists used these trees to make canoes. It could be that the Rappahannocks, who lived on Cat Point Creek, could have used some of Menokin’s tulip poplars to build some canoes! 
In 2009, archaeologists found a beautiful locket in the Menokin house ruin. This cameo locket portrays the image of a woman. Who did this locket belong to? Who is this woman? A 1794 letter from Frank’s brother, William, may just be the key to unlocking this mystery!
In 1785, two years after the death of his wife, Hannah, William Lee sent his two daughters, Portia and Cornelia, to live at Menokin with Uncle Frank and Aunt Becky. Hannah Lee thought it important that her daughters grow up in Virginia. William wrote to family friends in London, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Thorp, to further explain the desire for his daughters to grow up in Virginia. He writes, “[H]owever superior English education may be to what can be obtained here[,] yet the manners & customs of the ladies in England are so extremely different from the ladies here [in Virginia] that I never knew an instance of a young lady educated in England who could live happily here.”
He also wrote to the Thorpes requesting a momento by which Portia and Cornelia could remember them. He writes, “Our dear girls at Menokin are so importunate to have a miniature picture for each of them of your self & good Mrs. Thorp…have them set in gold to wear as bracelets…or a locket…the form should be rather a long than a round oval not too sharp at the ends…”
Could this be Mrs. Thorp on the locket? Did it once adorn the neck or wrist of young Portia or Cornelia Lee?
We hope to answer these questions with further research. In the meantime, tell us what you think and check back at Menokin Monitor for updates on this locket and other objects at Menokin.
We’d like to thank the Virginia Chapter of the Colonial Dames whose generous grant helped stabilize the locket. The locket is on display in Menokin’s Visitor’s Center.