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Volunteer Group Helps Restore Park

The “largest and least known park in Loudoun County” has caught the interest of Edwin “Ed” Linek.

Located off Cascades Parkway and covering 357 acres, Claude Moore Park has several natural areas, historic buildings and space for events and sports activities, all requiring labor to maintain.

“In the midst of all this eastern Loudoun, this park exists,” said Linek, volunteer and president of Lanesville Heritage Preservation Society, Inc., which meets quarterly. The 15-member advisory group provides volunteer labor to help restore historical buildings, preserve fishing ponds and hiking trails, and carry out park programs and activities in the county-owned park named for the multi-millionaire Claude Moore.

Moore was the last resident who lived in the Lanesville house, which remains in the park and is on the farm he purchased in 1941 and later sold to the National Wildlife Federation in 1975. He remained in the house until 1991 when he died at 98 years of age. The county purchased the land in 1987 and opened the natural and historic Lanesville heritage sections of the park in 1992.

“[We] try to preserve some of the nature and history of this park, so the elements of nature and history won’t be destroyed,” said Carl MacIntyre, member of the advisory group since the early 1990s when it was called Friends of Claude Moore Park.

THE ADVISORY GROUP assists the park staff in several park projects, such as restoring the Lanesville house since 2000 and planning to restore an 1870’s schoolhouse sitting on the property near the house where the Lane family, the original occupants, once lived.

“The house eventually will be furnished in different periods of time,” said Meredyth Breed, assistant manager at Clark Moore Park and staff liaison for the Lanesville Heritage Preservation Society.

In the meantime, the house is open for special events and once completed will be used for interpretative tours, Breed said.

Another project for the group is protecting Vestal’s Gap Road, which is now closed off to vehicle traffic and is accessible as a walking path with interpretative plaques explaining the road’s history. The six-tenths section of Vestal’s Gap Road passes in front of the Lanesville House and marks the halfway point between Alexandria and Vestal’s Ferry near Charles Town, W.Va. The road once was the primary Colonial path from the 1730s to 1820 from Alexandria to Vestal’s Gap traveling through the Blue Ridge and crossing the Shenandoah River at Vestal’s Ferry.

The advisory group helped research the historical features of the park, including Vestal’s Gap Road, the historical buildings on the property, the Lane family who owned the Lanesville House and 1,000 acres of property, and the existence of a Civil War signal site. The information the group gathered helped document the park and provided material for fliers and brochures. The park has historic areas from 1754 up to the Civil War.

MEMBERS of the advisory group established the Frogshackle Nature Center, an 1850’s log cabin that stood on an Ashburn farm Moore owned, along with other exhibits at the park. The group as a whole participates in four projects a year and is on-call for all activities in the park. The group co-sponsors several events with Claude Moore Park and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, including National Trails Day, Old Time Family Fourth of July, the Fall Festival and the annual Holiday in the Park.

“They give us feedback from the public and special events, and they also provide valuable volunteer assistance,” Breed said.

A separate advisory group volunteers for the Heritage Farm Museum, also located on the Claude Moore Park grounds and scheduled to open in fall 2002.

“This is a young place, but it’s growing,” Linek said.