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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Woodburn Road

Point of Rocks

You know, when you look at a body of water, you never really know what lies beneath that often peaceful-looking surface; in Loudoun County (our little locality of contradictions and seeming time vortexes) the same can be said of many of its solid landforms. I don’t know if I ever saw the ruins of the historic Woodburn General Store before it was demolished almost 15 years ago. If I did, it may not have really registered that the artifact held any more importance than an old, rotting fence line or nameless shack along the roadside. Heck, I didn’t even recall its existence – or that of the community of Woodburn itself – until a little research unearthed the machinations of the State Highway Department- going over the heads of our local government – in widening and paving Woodburn Road – and in so doing – demolishing all that was left of the former General Store. The County Board – otherwise far less poetically known as the Loudoun Supervisors – had made an earlier decision to leave the Road unpaved; whether we’d have seen an organized effort to save the Store or not – is left – I surmise – to the imagination.

But– even in the 21st Century – there’s still good reason to climb that ridge from Dry Mill Road in the north and go up that slope to the furthest eastern hump of the Catoctin Mountains as they sweep down from Maryland and into Loudoun County; Woodburn Road just happens to skirt the ridge just west of Leesburg and offer a sense of elevation and distance – as you glance off in the direction of the rising sun – where the piedmont meets the coastal plain, and the land levels out in what some might call a more civilized fashion. But up here, the topography offers enough challenging variation to prevent the rate of bulldozing, cementing, asphalting and building that we’ve seen just to the east. Not that all that stuff’s bad – I like to have a roof over my head at night – not to mention places to buy socks and groceries – as much as the next guy; I also like having that almost-inaccessible rocky outcropping covered in pines on my western horizon. And, if you follow Woodburn Road for its entire length – just a few miles, actually – all the way to Route 704 – Harmony Church Road – you’ve got limitless options for exploration to the south and west – whether on- or off-road.

So: as in other portions of our lives – we’ve lost some of the physical manifestations of our history on Woodburn Road; rarely can we move into the future while maintaining all the amenities of the past – unless you’ve a much larger attic than mine. Perhaps the improvements made on Woodburn Road outweigh the loss of the historic Woodburn General Store; maybe I’d have driven past it, thinking, “Why doesn’t somebody just tear that old eyesore down and put in something new – something useful?” Maybe.

Then again, I may have thought it was a really cool little milestone along my way. I won’t lose too much sleep over it, but I do wonder what it may have looked like, and if there was any chance to salvage this artifact before the swing of the wrecking ball.

Loudoun County has the blessing of being very popular – both to newcomers and a rapid birth rate among current residents. It’s a good problem – in many ways; with ongoing change comes varied opportunity – and with the ability of foresight – if we use even our most limited talents – we can choose which parts of our past to store in our attic, so to speak: do we want that old, falling-down Woodburn General Store?

We let the State Highway Department, in all its wisdom, make that decision for us. What other – perhaps more cherished sites along our path – would they (and maybe other, less benevolent agencies) choose to eliminate in favor of that new overpass, parking lot or utility? I once heard a wise man say that a growing community will always need jails and toilets. These institutions – both popular and unpopular – are all well and fine, but I’d need to hear some real fancy selling before I’d put in a prison or a sewage plant on some of my most favored locations across Loudoun County. How ‘bout you?

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Point of Rocks

November 5, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Point of Rocks
point of rocks

Yeah, I know; I seem to be coming up with a list of contradictions for this particular place: Imposing yet stimulating, simultaneously calming and invigorating, ethereal and grounding, still and moving. Those are just some of the pairs of opposing impressions and sensations I recall from my last visit to the banks of the Potomac River at the spot we call Point of Rocks.

Now, I know that the village by this name lies across the way in Frederick County, Md., but the views afforded by the place (in my opinion) are far more rewarding from the northern shores of Loudoun (yes, I know that’s the south bank of the river). You can get there easily enough: take the Boat Landing access from Lovettsville Road – immediately off Route 15 just before the bridge – and you can get out of your car and traipse around – and under – the huge pylons that support the structure for some inspiring sights – both natural and man-made. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Aldie Mill

October 1, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Aldie Mill

I guess what I’m impressed by the most – in addition to just the scale of the entire facility – is the indications of the sheer abundance which this county must once have offered in the form of sustenance. See, these days, if you need bread for your table, you just head down to your local supermarket – or even 24 hour convenience store; at the time of the early operations at the Aldie Mill, just about everybody made their own loaves of bread at home – and this was after somebody planted, grew and harvested the wheat – and then had it ground into flour at one of many of these mill complexes scattered across early American farmland. … Continue Reading


September 3, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Bloomfield

Maybe it’s just my imagination (most people who know me stress that it’s one of my stronger – or maybe, stranger – traits), but I’d swear that there are places around this unique county of ours where the past not only still lingers in distant memories and references in musty documents, but it practically reaches out and grabs you. You probably think of some of the same places I’d list – if that’s what I were setting out to do here; you drive, walk or ride past some of your favorite landmarks and feel as if you’d just spent some time not only in another place – but in another era. … Continue Reading

Shreve Mill Road

August 6, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Shreve Mill Road

It’s quintessential Loudoun County in transition: In less than two miles, this sleepy, little country road passes by decrepit, abandoned structures (apparently just waiting for demolition and development), some surprisingly tranquil waterways, and stretches of mature forest that would entice Robin Hood, and yet – it offers access (at its mid-point) to the biggest superhighway in our locality (the Dulles Greenway). The real hallmark of mixed identity for Shreve Mill Road, though, for me – at least for now – lies in its claim as a paved – and an unpaved – road. The eastern section offers a very narrow strip of blacktop (almost wide enough for two vehicles), which turns to gravel just after the imposing juncture with the Greenway. Little old County Road 653 even becomes a ‘four-laner’ as it crosses over its bigger counterpart – as if to make an impression in the presence of all that Green. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Blue Ridge Mountain Road

July 3, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Blue Ridge Mountain Road

It wasn’t until I saw it all under heavy fog that this place really came to speak to me; sure, I’d seen it in rain, snow, sleet and just about every other condition you could name, but before that blanket of milky white from the descended clouds covered it head to toe, I never really felt that palpable sense of what I call the Top of Loudoun County. Blue Ridge Mountain Road lives up to its name and more, as it cuts sharply uphill from Route Seven; it ascends in pretty much a straight path until you reach the summit – more or less – a couple of miles into the climb. This rate of incline – by the way – can be most dramatically brought home by viewing it from across the highway – several hundred yards up on Raven Rocks Road – another hair-raiser of a journey during anything like inclement weather.

… Continue Reading

Mountville Road

June 3, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Mountville Road

Glancing at a map, it really doesn’t look like much to the casual observer – one might think: “Hmm, just a little connector road in the southwestern portion of a place called Loudoun County” – from Snickersville Turnpike in the north to Foxcroft Road in the South; looking back upon my drives along Mountville Road, though, I’d say it packs in a lot of experience in that small horizontal distance – like a short canoe trip over deep, clear waters. I recall visions of neat – almost immaculate – farms, with impressive stocks of equine and bovine specimens on display – seemingly for the pleasure of the casual visitor – well-tended stone walls stretching so far that it makes you wonder where in the world they ever found so many rocks; these, complemented by stands of trees in scattered, park-like groupings, and the whole aggregate adds up to a very orderly appearance. … Continue Reading

Shelburne Glebe Road

April 30, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Shelburne Glebe Road

I guess you could say I have a thing for those sometimes overlooked, innocuous little roads that just kinda end someplace – for most of us in the middle of nowhere – but for some of us – just exactly where you’d want ‘em to. I’m not sure how other travelers feel about coming to an abrupt halt at the southern end of Shelburne Glebe Road (County Road 729), but I always like to know when I’ve come to the end of the line – so I can do a ‘180’ and head in the opposite direction. It tells me that I’ve pursued this path as far as I can, and I may as well direct my energy into other destinations. Life can be like that. … Continue Reading

Jeb Stuart Road

April 1, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Jeb Stuart Road

It’s not like I need an excuse for writing about Jeb Stuart Road; I mean, I know I’ve shared my experiences of Snickersville Turnpike as it passes through Philomont either to or from the Mountains to the west – but I figure I’ve paid my dues over the past several years along this little split corridor of gravel.

Yeah- and that’s a good thing to keep in mind if you ever head down there – say – after dark or during a really wet period: Jeb Stuart doesn’t cross that little stretch of water down at the bottom – or, wait a minute – yeah, it does – but the road goes under Butchers Branch instead of riding safe and dry over the top. I’ve heard tales of folks crossing over during dry spells, but you won’t catch me giving that a try. The last time I came in from the east side – down to where the water meets the road – I barely got out of there with an all-wheel drive Subaru. It gets pretty soupy down there. … Continue Reading

Tuscarora Creek Park

March 4, 2014 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Tuscarora Creek Park

Nothing like a brisk walk. Always good for what ails ya. Some nice hills (not too steep, mind you) to get the heart pumping and the blood running and the breath working – makes you feel alive. Combine that with some inspiring surroundings and you’re on your way to actually feeling pretty good – no matter how sluggish or grumpy (or maybe worse) you felt before you left the house. I wish I were there right now.

You see, Tuscarora Creek Park – just off Battlefield Parkway in the Southeast Quadrant of Leesburg – lies adjacent to a very scenic portion of the W and OD Trail. Or – I should say – a nice little paved walking path heads down to the Trail at the bottom of the gorge – close to the pylons for the Battlefield Bridge. So, it’s a nice ‘jumping off place’ from which to park your car, head down the hill and spend some time and energy in one direction or the other. … Continue Reading

Sterling Veterans Memorial


The first thing you notice is the flags – I guess it’s their movement that catch the eye and ear – then the silent, immobile shapes of the obelisks bearing insignias of the various branches of military service; yeah, you see those (to me) statues of pride and sadness sheltered under the waving flags as you walk up a little closer – and that’s when you notice the names etched upon the bricks you almost trod upon. And I can’t say that I’m familiar with any of the names I gazed upon on my last visit – but I have heard about the conflicts in which they served: Iraqi Freedom, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, World War I and II- and even back as far as the Civil War. … Continue Reading

Lakeview Cemetery


I guess it’s ‘cause I honestly feel safer here than at most of our more populated locations – like a crowded mall or supermarket or other high-density shopping attraction. I don’t have to ponder on any unexpected activities here – I’m pretty sure, anyway. But it’s far beyond these concerns; I also have to admit that there’s always been kind of an odd – inexorable – attraction between yours truly and the local churchyard. And this one sunk its teeth into me the first time I came across it – which must’ve been on one of my first ramblings around the new neighborhood during that one year I lived in the charming little Town of Hamilton.

Lakeview Cemetery was practically in the backyard of the historic, imposing – almost foreboding house (fit for an Edward Hopper painting, if there ever was one) in which we rented space – just north of Colonial Highway; the burial ground lay within about a tenth of a mile from the place, so it naturally became one of my habitual destinations on my frequent, solitary walks. In those days – this was about 15 years ago, back long enough to predate much of the recent development on the outskirts of Hamilton – the churchyard was truly (most of the time, anyway) a lonely, isolated place – a perfect spot for a 21st Century ‘shaman’ to re-connect with his soul. Lord knows there were (and still are, and always will be) plenty of ‘em around me in spots like this – at least according to my beliefs. … Continue Reading

Neer Lane

December 3, 2013 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Neer Lane

No, not much happens out here – as far as I can tell; and it’s not very conveniently located for easy access during your commute from home to work. And, no – this spot’s probably not the most exciting intersection of latitude and longitude that you’ll ever (or never) visit, and even if you grow to love it dearly (as I have) you’ll probably never hang around for very long at any one time. Having said all this (probably at least partially to discourage the less intrepid traveler), I’ve come to realize that I always feel awfully good whenever I come to this little, neglected dirt road called Neer Lane.

And, the sardonic in me often asks: “So, just where is Neer?” Well, Neer’s nowhere special – but it is in a very specific spot – out in Western Loudoun, of course – just off Cider Mill Road, south of Harpers Ferry Road on the frontier side of Hillsboro. And that’s enough information for anyone with the least bit of adventurousness in their system. But – there’re no whitewater rapids to test your kayaking skills, no hiking trails to exhaust your overspilling energies, not even much of a roadway itself to exercise your driving ability. … Continue Reading








The Holocene Climate


(Public Input Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 7 March, 2017) Figure 1 shows the climate variation over the last million years. The low points on the curve correspond to ice ages when glaciers up to a mile thick covered New …

Choosing To Forgive


By Samuel Moore-Sobel “Truly forgiving is the ability to say, ‘Thank you for giving me that experience.’” James Arthur Ray vaulted into fame on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the mid-2000’s. Stunned hearing these words while watching The Rise and …

Five Key Retirement Questions


Beyond asking yourself where you see yourself and even what your lifelong goal are, effective retirement and longevity planning begs some very big questions. Review the points below and consider how housing, transportation and health considerations all play a role …

Work Woes


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, I’m a manager at a large tech company and my boss has directed me to fire someone on my team, but as a Christian, I just can’t do it. It’s true that the employee …

Joy or Suffering

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde No one likes to suffer. When given the chance, many people would choose to laugh rather than cry, to sit in silence with their friends rather than talk through their feelings, because not even their friends …

Wage Radio


I will always remember – very fondly – the first time I ever set foot on the property at 711 Wage Drive Southwest in Leesburg, Virginia. It was a warm, sunny July morning in 1997, and I’d driven all the …

Speaking Truth to Power


“With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed.” Abraham Lincoln On Thursday evening, February 23, I requested the Board of Supervisors pass a proclamation resolving to support the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22 [1]. …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016


Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016


Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016


Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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March 2017
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February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017


March 4, 2017

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 March 7, 2017 March 8, 2017 March 9, 2017 March 10, 2017 March 11, 2017 March 12, 2017
March 13, 2017 March 14, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 16, 2017 March 17, 2017 March 18, 2017

Wine & Chili Weekend

Wine & Chili Weekend
March 19, 2017

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale
March 20, 2017 March 21, 2017 March 22, 2017 March 23, 2017 March 24, 2017

March Fourth Friday

March Fourth Friday
March 25, 2017 March 26, 2017

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch
March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Old Time Country Ham and Turkey Dinner

Old Time Country Ham and Turkey Dinner
April 2, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”
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Steady and NoBull


Sterling Library Moving To New Location

25 Mar 2017


Sterling Library’s current location, 120 Enterprise St., Sterling, will close beginning Saturday, March 25, to prepare for the opening of the new Sterling Library on Saturday, April 15. Patrons can return library materials using the drop box at the new location, 22330 S. Sterling Boulevard.

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Middleburg Gallery Presents Country Pursuits Exhibit

25 Mar 2017

Mr and Mrs Andrews 24x35 59 2016 whelan

The Gallery on Madison in Middleburg is presenting an exhibit of Brian Whelan’s (a London Irish painter now settled in Waterford) ) transcriptions of a gallery of paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Andrews’ through April 2. The exhibit includes 23 paintings, two masks, two graphics, and nine preparatory drawings.

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Loudoun Workforce Resource Center Presents STEM Career Fair March 28

16 Mar 2017

Illustration of STEM education word typography design in orange theme with icon ornament elements

Anyone interested in a career in the rapidly growing field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is encouraged to attend an upcoming STEM Career Fair in Loudoun. The Loudoun Workforce Resource Center, in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC)’s Loudoun campus and NOVA SySTEMic Solutions, is holding a STEM Career Fair Tuesday, March 28, from 1:00 to 4:00 …

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Priscilla Nabs Plum Planning Commission Post

Loudoun County Seal Color

Appointment Shocks Many On January 3 Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) nominated Tom Priscilla for the Loudoun County Planning Commission to represent the Blue Ridge District. Priscilla was …


Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!


– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West


– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

Why Williams Gap Road Should Not Be Paved


Today, most residents of Loudoun County know nothing about Williams Gap, even those living on Williams Gap Road (Route 711). Knowing who “Williams” was, why a gap in the Blue …

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception


We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm


By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

Virginia Schools Kick Off Statewide Campaign To Encourage Safe Teen Driving


More teen drivers in Virginia will be involved in traffic crashes between the months of May and August than any other time of the year, statistics show. To help save lives and prevent such crashes during the high-risk warm weather months, Virginia schools are kicking off a statewide teen safety …

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Protecting Free Speech


By Dave LaRock (R-33) As elected officials and members of the legislature, our most fundamental responsibility is to protect God-given constitutionally protected rights. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the government, including governmental public colleges and universities, from infringing on free speech and the free exercise of …


Walbridge To Run for State Delegate in the 33rd District

Tia walbridge

Tia Walbridge announces her run for the District 33 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Walbridge is a wife and mother of two daughters and an active member of the Round Hill community. “Like many people in our district, my family has found its prosperity in a Virginia-based small …

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Vikings Runner-Up at the State Championship 

8 Mar 2017


The Loudoun Valley Vikings are the boy’s runner-up at the VHSL 4A State Indoor Track and Field Championships at Roanoke College.  During the 2015-2016 school year, the Loudoun County School Board approved Indoor Track and Field as a Tier 2 (self-funded) sport.  The seven boys competing scored 48 points, second …

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WLVBC U14 Boys Finish 3rd at VA Beach Event

23 Feb 2017


The Western Loudoun Volleyball Club’s U14 Boys Team garnered 3rd place in their first travel tournament of 2017, the Virginia Beach Invitational. This event was held Feb. 18-19 and featured more than 24 teams from the U14 to U18 age group. The team was second on their net on day …

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