Lexington

Overview

Introduction

This lovely town in the Shenandoah Valley is home to two famous schools: Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute. Washington and Lee dates back to the 1740s and contains Lee Chapel, Robert E. Lee's final resting place. The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is one of the nation's most prominent military academies. There are two museums on campus. The VMI Museum includes objects that belonged to cadets and instructors who went on to military fame, including George S. Patton and Stonewall Jackson. (Among the exhibits is Little Sorrel, Jackson's horse, which has been stuffed and preserved.) The George C. Marshall Museum is dedicated to the VMI graduate who became the Army Chief of Staff during World War II. He is best remembered for rebuilding Europe (through his eponymous Marshall Plan) at the close of that war. Stonewall Jackson's home has been preserved in Lexington, and his burial site is now the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.

Equestrian enthusiasts should not miss the Virginia Horse Center, which hosts dozens of horse shows and contests throughout the year. About 12 mi/18 km southwest of Lexington is Natural Bridge, a limestone arch that so fascinated Thomas Jefferson that he bought it in 1774. (George Washington carved his initials into the rock.) Equally impressive are the Caverns of Natural Bridge, three levels of caves that go 34 stories below the Earth's surface.

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