The markers feature descriptions and photographs detailing important trail sites, including the locations of a 19th-century ice pond and springheads and the ruins of an electric pump station artist Gari Melchers installed to bring water uphill from underground springs to a cistern near the main house. Additional marker topics include the Melchers’ farming practices, the early canal along the Rappahannock River that helped power 18th- and 19th-century mills in Falmouth and a gravesite for members of the family of Joseph B. Ficklen, the Civil War-era owner of Belmont. The George J. and Effie L. Seay Foundation provided funding for the project.
In Corinne Melchers’ will deeding Belmont to the Commonwealth of Virginia, she expressed a desire that the property be developed into a public park for the enjoyment of local residents.
“We are excited about this long-awaited opportunity to increase the appreciation of local history for walkers exploring our network of trails,” said Site Preservation Manager Beate Jensen.
Belmont’s trails are open year round without charge. Trail maps are available on the museum’s website and in the museum shop. Markers at the trail entrances also illustrate the various routes available.
Volunteers from the Virginia Master Naturalists program hold free guided hikes for the public on the last Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. These hikes focus on native plants and animals, as well as Belmont’s historic features.
Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Va., a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge. The museum also serves as the official Stafford County Visitor Center. For directions and other information, call (540) 654-1015 or visit the museum website at www.GariMelchers.org.
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News release prepared by: Michelle Crow-Dolby