The Shenandoah Collection by Charles Oliver
Home  Galleries  Serenade Gallery  Dreams Gallery  Visions Gallery  Passages Gallery  impressions gallery  Prints Info  Links & Resources
<<< Listen to: "With Body and Soul"- Bill Monroe        
About The Shenandoah Valley, The Collection and The Artist
The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians (excluding Massanutten Mountain), to the north by the Potomac River and to the south by the James River. The cultural region covers a larger area that includes all of the valley plus the Virginia highlands to the west, and the Roanoke Valley to the south. It is physiographically located within the Ridge and Valley province and is a portion of the Great Appalachian Valley.

The word Shenandoah is of unknown Native American origin. It has been described as being derived from the Anglicization of Native American terms, resulting in words such as:
Gerando, Gerundo, Genantua, Shendo and Sherando. The meaning of these words is of some question. Schin-han-dowi, the "River Through the Spruces"; On-an-da-goa, the "River of High Mountains" or "Silver-Water"; and an Iroquois word for "Big Meadow", have all been proposed by Native American etymologists. The most popular, romanticized belief is that the name comes from a Native American expression for "Beautiful Daughter of the Stars."
Another legend relates that the name is derived from the name of the Iroquoian Chief Sherando (Sherando was also the name of his people), who fought against the Algonquian
Chief Opechancanough, ruler of the Powhatan Confederacy (1618–1644).

Opechancanough liked the interior country so much that he sent his son Sheewa-a-nee from the Tidewater with a large party to colonize the valley. Sheewa-a-nee drove Sherando back to his former territory near the Great Lakes. According to this account, descendants of Sheewanee's party became the Shawnee. According to tradition, another branch of Iroquoians, the Senedo, lived in present-day Shenandoah County. They were exterminated by "Southern Indians" (Cherokee) before the arrival of white settlers.
Another story dates to the American Revolutionary War. Throughout the war, Chief Oskanondonha (also known as Skenando, whose name means "deer") of the Oneida, based in New York, persuaded many of the tribe to side with the colonials against the British. Four Iroquois nations became British allies. He led 250 warriors against the British and Iroquois allies. According to Oneida oral tradition, during the harsh winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge, where the colonials suffered, Chief Skenando provided aid to the soldiers. The Oneida delivered bushels of dry corn to the troops to help them survive due to their lack of food. Polly Cooper, an Oneida woman, stayed some time with the troops to teach them how to cook the corn properly and care for the sick. General Washington gave her a shawl in thanks, which is displayed at Shako:wi, the museum of the Oneida Nation
near Syracuse, New York. Many Oneida believe that after the war, George Washington named the Shenandoah River and valley after his ally.

Historical Society
Despite the Valley's potential for productive farmland, colonial settlement from the east was long delayed by the barrier of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These were crossed by
explorers John Lederer at Manassas Gap in 1671, Batts and Fallam the same year, and Cadwallader Jones in 1682. The Swiss Franz Ludwig Michel and Christoph von Graffenried
also explored and mapped the Valley in 1706 and 1712, respectively. Von Graffenried reported that the Indians of Senantona (Shenandoah) had been alarmed by news of the
recent Tuscarora War in North Carolina.
Governor Alexander Spotswood's legendary Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition of 1716 crossed the Blue Ridge at Swift Run Gap and reached the river at Elkton, VA. Settlers did not immediately follow, but someone who heard the reports and later became the first permanent settler in the Valley was Adam Miller (Mueller), who in 1727 staked out claims on the south fork of the Shenandoah River, near the line that now divides Rockingham
County from Page County.
The Great Wagon Road (later called the Valley Pike (or Valley Turnpike) began as the Great Warriors Trail or Indian Road, a Native road through common hunting grounds shared by several tribes settled around the periphery, which included Iroquoian, Siouan and Algonquian-language family tribes. Known native settlements within the Valley were few, but included the Shawnee occupying the region around Winchester, and Tuscarora around what is now Martinsburg, West Virginia. In the late 1720s and 1730s, Quakers and Mennonites began to move in from Pennsylvania. They were tolerated by the natives, while "Long Knives" (English settlers from coastal Virginia colony) were less welcomed.

During these same decades, the valley route continued to be used by war parties of Seneca (Iroquois) and Lenape en route from New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to
attack the distant Catawba in the Carolinas, with whom they were at war. The Catawba in turn pursued the war parties northward, often overtaking them by the time they reached
the Potomac. Several fierce battles were fought among the warring nations in the Valley region, as attested by the earliest European-American settlers.
Later colonists called this route the Great Wagon Road; it became the major thoroughfare for immigrants' moving by wagons from Pennsylvania and northern Virginia into the
backcountry of the South. The Valley Turnpike Company improved the road by paving it with macadam prior to the Civil War and set up toll gates to collect fees to pay for the
improvements. After the advent of motor vehicles, the road was refined and paved appropriately for their use. In the 20th century, the road was acquired by the Commonwealth of Virginia, which incorporated it into the state highway system as U.S.

Highway 11. For much of its length, the newer Interstate 81, constructed in the 1960s, parallels the old Valley Pike.
Along with the first German settlers, known as "Shenandoah Deitsch", many Scots-Irish immigrants came south in the 1730s from Pennsylvania into the valley, via the Potomac
River. The Scots-Irish comprised the largest group of immigrants from the British Isles before the Revolutionary War, and most migrated into the backcountry of the South.

This was in contrast to the chiefly English immigrants who had settled the Virginia Tidewater and Carolina Piedmont regions.
Governor Spotswood had arranged the Treaty of Albany with the Iroquois (Six Nations) in 1721, whereby they had agreed not to come east of the Blue Ridge in their raiding parties on tribes farther to the South. In 1736, the Iroquois began to object, claiming that they still legally owned the land to the west of the Blue Ridge; this led to a skirmish with Valley settlers in 1743. The Iroquois were on the verge of declaring war on the Virginia Colony as a result, when Governor Gooch paid them the sum of 100 pounds sterling for any settled land in the Valley that was claimed by them. The following year at the Treaty of Lancaster, the Iroquois sold all their remaining claim to the Valley for 200 pounds in gold.
The few Shawnees who still resided in the Valley abruptly headed westward in 1754, having been approached the year before by emissaries from their kindred beyond the Alleghanies.
The Shenandoah Valley was known as the breadbasket of the Confederacy during the Civil War and seen as a back door for Confederate raids on Maryland, Washington and
Pennsylvania. Because of its strategic importance it was the scene of three major campaigns. The first was the Valley Campaign of 1862, in which Confederate General Stonewall Jackson defended the valley against three numerically superior Union armies. The final two were the Valley Campaigns of 1864. First, in the summer of 1864,
Confederate General Jubal Early cleared the valley of its Union occupiers and then proceeded to raid Maryland, Pennsylvania and D.C. Then during the Autumn, Union
General Philip Sheridan was sent to drive Early from the valley and once-and-for-all destroy its use to the Confederates by putting it to the torch using scorched-earth tactics.

The valley, especially in the lower northern section, was also the scene of bitter partisan fighting as the region's inhabitants were deeply divided over loyalties and Confederate partisan John Mosby and his Rangers frequently operated in the area.
In the late 20th century, the valley's vineyards began to reach maturity. They constituted the new industry of the Shenandoah Valley American Viticultural Area.
The Shenandoah Collection by Charles Oliver-
A brief bio about the artist and information about the art collection.

Charles Alexander Oliver was born in 1948 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has been creating since he could hold a crayon. He is self-taught basically except for some direction from his father who was also an artist.

Charles has been involved with fine art professionally since 1969 when he returned home from Vietnam and the Marine Corps. During the early 70's he worked as an art consultant to fine artists and exhibited his works in many shows in the Philadelphia, Washington, DC and New York areas.

In 1976 he started his commercial art career and continued to do fine art in his spare time. Mr. Oliver has been an art director for several ad agencies, PR firms, newspapers and printers.

Mr. Oliver moved to a mountain top home in Mt. Jackson, Va. in 2007 where he currently resides.

In The Artist's Own Words...

"I have been creating for as long as I can remember. I am self-taught other than my father's tutoring (he was also an artist) and a couple years of high school art classes. I have been involved with fine art professionally since 1969 when I returned home from Vietnam and the Marine Corps. In 1976 I started my commercial art career. I got tired of being a starving fine artist. I have been an art director for several ad agencies, newspapers and print media firms. In 1992 I moved here to Virginia and went back to the fine arts area. In '97 I started my fine art creations full time and haven't looked back since. There never seems to be enough time in the day to pursue all I want to do in art. I live, breathe and dream creation. I also enjoy website design and programming, digital photography (I use my own photos as a basis in the majority of my work)."

"The Shenandoah Collection has been nothing less than a pure labor of love. It is quite an extensive body of work that encompasses scenes from the Shenandoah valley and mountains. It also includes scenes from Page valley and the Shenandoah National Park. The collection is a body of works created over the past 20 years and is divided into 5 separate series, each with it's own unique style. As of September 2011 the collection totals 395 works of art and photography."

"The Shenandoah valley and surrounding mountain ranges are a place that time has somewhat forgotten. Living here is somewhat reminiscent of the days back in the 50's and 60's when life seemed more wholesome, simple  and less stressful.  There are more cows than people and it seems like there are as many churches and farms as there are homes. We (my wife Susan and I and our dog Floppy) live on the top of a little mountain about 8 miles outside the historic, quaint and friendly town of Mount Jackson. We had previously spent our lives in metropolitan areas. Susan in England and I here in the States."

"It is a real pleasure here to be removed from the hustle and bustle of modern urban life.  I actually enjoy driving out here on the back country roads. It is so nice to drive and not see another car ahead or behind for as far as the eye can see. Even on the main roads traffic is sparse. There is NO rush hour! Life in the main moves at a gentle  loping pace."

"The natural beauty that surrounds us everywhere is inspiring and breathtaking. One can't help but feel a spiritual closeness to the Creator. Here the land and the people live in harmony. When people speak of 'God's Land' I have a new understanding  of what that is all about. Shucks- I sure should... I LIVE HERE!"


Named for the river that stretches much of its length, the Shenandoah Valley
encompasses nine counties in Virginia and two counties in West Virginia.
 Frederick County, Virginia
 Clarke County, Virginia
 Warren County, Virginia
 Shenandoah County, Virginia
 Page County, Virginia
 Rockingham County, Virginia
 Augusta County, Virginia
 Rockbridge County, Virginia
 Berkeley County, West Virginia
 Jefferson County, West Virginia

In addition, the cultural region also includes five more counties in Virginia:

Bath County

 Highland County
 Alleghany County
 Botetourt County
 Roanoke County

Between the Roanoke Valley in the south and Harpers Ferry in the north, where the Shenandoah River joins the Potomac, the Valley cultural region contains 10 independent cities:

 Buena Vista
The central section of the Shenandoah Valley is split in half by the Massanutten Mountain range, with the smaller associated Page Valley lying to its east and the Fort Valley within the mountain range.

Notable caves
The Shenandoah Valley contains a number of geologically and historically significant

limestone caves:
 Crystal Caverns
 Skyline Caverns
 Luray Caverns, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974
 Shenandoah Caverns
 Endless Caverns
 Massanutten Caverns
 Grand Caverns, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973
 Madison's Cave, visited by George Washington; mapped and published by Thomas Jefferson
 Dixie Caverns

Transportation in the Shenandoah Valley consists mainly of road and rail and contains several metropolitan area transit authorities. The main north-south road transportation is
Interstate 81, which parallels the old Valley Turnpike (U.S. Route 11) through its course in the valley. In the lower valley, on the eastern side, U.S. Route 340 also runs north- south, starting from Waynesboro in the south, running through the Page Valley to Front Royal, and on to Harpers Ferry, where it exits the valley. Major east-west roads cross the valley as well, providing access to the Piedmont and the Allegheny Mountains. Starting from the north, these routes include: U.S. Route 50, U.S. Route 522, Interstate 66, U.S. Route 33, U.S. Route 250, Interstate 64, and U.S. Route 60.
CSX Transportation operates several rail lines through the valley, including the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the old Manassas Gap Railroad and the old Virginia Central Railroad. There are also more modern lines that run the length of the valley parallel to the Valley Pike and U.S. 340. The rail lines are primarily used for freight transportation, though Maryland Area Rail Commuter (MARC) trains utilize the old B&O line from stations in Martinsburg, Duffields, and Harper's Ferry to Washington Union Station and vice-versa.
Several localities in the valley also operate public transportation systems, including Front Royal Area Transit (FRAT), which provides weekday transit for the town of Front Royal; Page County Transit, providing weekday transit for the town of Luray and weekday service between Luray and Front Royal; and Winchester Transit, which provides weekday transit for the city of Winchester. In addition, Shenandoah Valley Commuter Bus Service offers weekday commuter bus service from the northern Shenandoah Valley, including Shenandoah County and Warren County, to Northern Virginia (Arlington County and Fairfax County) and Washington. Origination points in Shenandoah County include Woodstock.

Origination points in Warren County include Front Royal and Linden.

1.  Julia Davis, "The Shenandoah", Rivers of America, New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. , 1945, pp. 20-21
2.  Carrie Hunter Willis and Etta Belle Walker, 1937, Legends of the Skyline Drive and the Great Valley of Virginia, p. 15-16.
3.  Doddridge, p. 31.
4.  "Cultural Heritage: American Revolution", 05July2010, Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, <>
5.  "The Revolutionary War", 05 July 2010, Oneida Indian Nation,
6.  John W. Wayland, Ph.d., 1912, A History of Rockingham County, Virginia p. 33-37

 7.  Joseph Doddridge, 1850, A History of the Valley of Virginia p. 1-46
8.  David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 605- 608
9.  Joseph Solomon Walton, 1900, Conrad Weiser and the Indian Policy of Colonial Pennsylvania p. 76-121.
10.  Doddridge, p.44-45

This information on the Shenandoah was referenced from Wikipedia. For more related information visit...  
Wikipedia- Shenandoah Valley

Wikimedia Commons has media related to the: Shenandoah Valley

All images copyright Charles Oliver 1972-2011

Website Designed and Produced by O l i v e r ArtWorks