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Chesapeake Bay News

Nov
01
2011

Tributary Tuesday: Passage Creek (Fort Valley, Va.)

Just a scenic two-hour drive from Washington, D.C., the 38-mile-long Passage Creek weaves in and out of Fort Valley, Virginia, a part of the Shenandoahs so sheltered that it has been called "a valley within a valley." 

Passage Creek (image courtesy ClintJCL/Flickr)

In the 1800s, Passage Creek was home to five- and six-pound trout.  Today, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries stocks the creek with trout three times each summer. Fisherman, local residents and conservationists are working together to protect habitat for trout and other important species.

Although there aren’t any gigantic trout (yet!), stepping onto the banks of Passage Creek is, in many ways, like taking a step back in time.

Passage Creek is considered to be a relatively healthy stream compared to other Virginia waterways, many of which have degraded habitats due to agriculture, urbanization and logging, according to the Potomac Conservancy, which has launched a restoration campaign in the area.

In addition to fishing its waters, visitors to Passage Creek cancamp in the adjacent George Washington National Forest, view the nation's first Civilian Conservation Corps camp or hike around the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area, one of many iron ore furnaces constructed in Shenandoah Valley during the 1800s.

Passage Creek (image courtesy fruit_on_the_vines/Flickr)

Visiting? Look for freshwater mussels (a sign of good stream health), salamanders, black bears, coyotes, wild turkeys and luna moths!

And if you're thirsty, look around! The area's freshwater springs first came to the public's attention in the 1850s, when a man named E.H. Munch built a "Seven Fountains" resort  that treated guests to each of the seven kinds of mineral waters found in the area.  Although the resort closed after the Civil War, many friendly area residents can lead you to a spring or two.

(Top image courtesy ClintJCL/Flickr; bottom image courtesy fruit_on_the_vines/Flickr)

author
About Caitlin Finnerty - Caitlin Finnerty is the Communications Staffer at the Chesapeake Research Consortium and Chesapeake Bay Program. Caitlin grew up digging for dinosaur bones and making mud pies in Harrisburg, Pa. Her fine arts degree landed her environmental field work jobs everywhere from Oregon to Maryland. Now settled in Baltimore, she is eagerly expecting her first child while creating an urban garden oasis on her cement patio.


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