RSS feed of this blog

Park Service to clear view from Chatham

Coming weeks will bring some commotion along the Rappahannock River opposite Fredericksburg’s downtown Historic District.

Starting Monday, the National Park Service will begin clearing heavy vegetation that obscures people’s view of Chatham Manor on the bluff above the river. The work will take about 90 days, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park said Friday.

It will require the weekday closure of the exit driveway from Chatham onto River Road in Stafford County.

And when work is being done on the slopes in front of Chatham, River Road will be closed periodically—for a total of about four days, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Park officials will announce specific dates later.

The $299,000 project—funded by the agency’s repair and rehabilitation budget—aims to re-establish vistas to and from Chatham, the circa 1771 mansion that serves as the park’s headquarters.

One of the largest and grandest Colonial houses in the region, Chatham’s long brick façades were built “to be seen,” the park officials said.

But in recent decades, the riverbank’s trees and shrubbery have obscured views of the house on the Stafford side, and of the city from its grounds.

The view of Fredericksburg from Chatham, seen in countless photographs over the past 150 years, may be the most famous single view in the Fredericksburg region, park officials said.

One of three houses visited by Presidents Washington and Lincoln (the others are Mount Vernon and Berkeley Plantation), Chatham was an important Union command post and field hospital during the Civil War.

Beaumon Industries Inc. of Fredericksburg will selectively clear vegetation on the slopes in front of Chatham and the floodplain between River Road and the Rappahannock, park officials said.

Some trees will be removed; others will have limbs trimmed. A significant number of the trees are damaged or unhealthy, constituting “deferred maintenance,” park staff said.

Tree stumps will be ground down, as workers try to minimize ground disturbance. Culverts and drainage ditches will be cleared and re-graded.

Timing of the work will depend upon weather. Rain could be a big obstacle because of the nature of the ground along the river.

The park will post alerts and updates about the work on its website,

Clint Schemmer: 540/374-5424;