The richness and sheer beauty of the land led Colonel Charles Lewis to settle here more than two centuries ago. In 1750 he built a small stockade to protect the southern pass of Shenandoah Mountain from Indian raids. Col. Lewis went on to die a hero's death fighting the Shawnee, allies of the British, in the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, now widely regarded as the first conflict of the American Revolution. His vast 3,200 acre mountain farm, once known as "Fort Lewis Plantation", has remained relatively unchanged over its 200 year history.
In the 1740's Virginia frontiersmen found herds of buffalo roaming in fertile grounds of the Cowpasture River Valley. The Shawnee had long since cleared these fields and regarded them as sacred hunting grounds. Early settlers introduced domestic livestock and small grains but found hemp to be the most valuable crop. Descendants of Col. Lewis managed the plantation for over a century. By 1850 the Lewis family had diverted water from the river and built a gristmill to service the plantation and neighboring farms. The Mill has been faithfully reconstructed and now serves as the Lodge's dining room. The Cowden family purchased Fort Lewis in 1959 and brought a herd of registered Black Angus cattle to the valley. Today we strive to be stewards of the land while continuing to raise cattle, grow crops and provide for wildlife.
A Day Afield
The day begins. Miles of marked hiking trails lead guests of all ages to mountain top vistas and beyond. Other paths wander through mature stands of timber with carpets of fern and wild flowers where with some patience and stealth you may spot a cautious young buck or flock of wild turkeys. spend the day on the trail with a picnic lunch or just sit beside a cascading stream with your latest novel. Fit bikers can tour backroads for hours, counting all the cars seen on one hand.
And yes, the Cowpasture River runs through. Carved at the base of a towering rock wall adjacent to the Lodge, guests are always thrilled at the discovery of an old-fashioned swimming hole, complete with a deck and inner tubes.. In the spring, at the river's far bend, anglers will find trout waiting for the first hatch of mayflies and smallmouth bass still on their redds.
As the Sun Sets...
But in the end, we remain a place where you can simply leave the familiar sights and sounds of your other life behind. Where you can wander and read and sit out and watch the mist rise off the river at dusk. Where Caryl still serves the finest, freshest menu around (we can't help but brag a little).