By Sally Voth
Although it's far from a finished product, the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park's 10th anniversary is noteworthy, according to one of its park rangers.
Several special programs are scheduled for Nov. 24 to commemorate the milestone.
Park Ranger Eric Campbell said the national park was "not at all" complete.
"It's taken a lot longer than we hoped to become operational," he said. "We were handicapped by two things."
The park's small staff was tasked with creating a general management plan -- an onerous process, according to Campbell -- and once that plan was complete, the country was in the midst of the recession.
"Our federal budget just shrunk," Campbell said.
He said the park still hopes to develop a visitor's contact station, as well as signage.
"We thought the 10th anniversary was something significant to at least commemorate and point out to people," Campbell said.
His hope is that visitors will get to see some of the park's "hidden gems."
President Bush signed a bill creating the new national park in December 2002. The National Park Service worked with various partners to create and manage the park: Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, Belle Grove Inc., National Trust for Historic Preservation and Shenandoah County.
Among the programs on Nov. 24:
• Belle Grove manor tours offered every hour between 10:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. The grounds are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Living history encampment at the 19th Corps Entrenchment property along U.S. 11 south of Middletown. Guided tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• Living history encampment at Civil War entrenchments built by the Union 8th Corps on Bowman's Mill Road. Encampment open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with demonstrations at 12 and 3 p.m.
• 8th Vermont ranger programs at 8739 Valley Pike, Middletown at 1 and 4 p.m.
For more information, call 869-3051, or visit www.nps.gov/cebe.