Monday, April 26, 2010

Faces of Culpeper .... Yowell Meadow Park

One of the real delights of living in Culpeper is Yowell Meadow Park.  One of my first introductions to the Pepper was visiting my son here for the Fourth of July.  There was a fun small town parade and then later everyone gathered at Yowell for fireworks.   It was a high quality small town experience and I was very taken with the park and the organization of the events.  Coming from Northern Virginia where everything, including parks, are supersized .... more like Mountain Run Lake Park .... Yowell Park has been a revelation to me.  What a wonderful place and service the city has provided.  It's "downtown" location is perfect. Since moving to the Pepper I have biked, walked, picnicked, and entertained my grandchildren over and over again there.  What a beautiful and well maintained setting!  It is a place where all kinds of diverse people meet and enjoy the peace and the fun that is there.  


The 48 acres of Yowell Meadow Park are historically significant for both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  In 1775 it was called, "Old Clayton's Field" and was an encampment for the Culpeper Minutemen.  During the Civil War, the area was also an "encampment due to its strategic location, protection by a hillside and abundance of water from Mountain Run." (Waverly Lee)  In 1979 The Town of Culpeper began a plan for Yowell's Meadow.  In 1984 The Citizens' Committee renewed interest in developing the park.  At that time the area was largely a watershed and parts, or all of it, flooded after rain storms.  "Extensive drainage improvements were undertaken in 1998 which included the installation of large under-drains and the contruction of the pond." (Waverly Lee)

I talked with Bill Yowell about the park.  His grandfather donated the land to the city.  As a boy he  remembers playing in Mountain Run which still flows through the park.  He said that even though a dam was built near what is now the third tee of the golf course, that the area still flooded when it rained.  He noted that as a young man he hunted in the area that is now the park.

We are fortunate to be able to enjoy the finished product and to benefit from those far-sighted citizens who saw the potential benenfit to the town and the citizens.



It is fun to watch parents teach their children about nature at Yowell Meadow Park.  Geese are plentiful, beautiful and messy.  :)

I have made several trips to "the park" while shooting this blog.  It is never empty although sometimes the people are not readily evident.  There is always something interesting there or at least someone interesting.  One place that is never silent is the skating park.  Including the skating park in Yowell Meadow Park was an excellent idea and probably saved wear and tear on local buildings.

Tyler was skating one morning practicing his moves.  He is older than lots of the kids that use the ramp and probably enjoyed being there on a school day when he had the place to himself.

Yowell Meadow is for special events like the Run/Walk for MS.......

...... Or excercising free speech at a Tea Party

But it is mostly for children, parents, grandparents, lovers, friends and those working on physical fitness.

OH!  AND..... it is for dogs....or so it seems!

These dapper ladies are Lynne and Cynthia.  They are accompanied by Mickey.

This young man's name is Lamont.  I was too anxious to get some distance between me and the dog to ask its name.

Yowell Meadow is a great place for kids.

And grandparents with their grandchildren.
This is my favorite grammie, my wife Andrea, with two of ours.

I found this grandpa watching his grandchildren and went over to talk with him.  He was very friendly.  It turns out that he is Michael Gray and is the priest at St. Stephens Church!

Yowell Meadow Park is also for playing games.

About seven thirty one evening I noticed a group of young men gathering and there were several basketballs in evidence.  In the cool evening, these guys broke into teams and shot hoops.  They were very spirited and some of those boys could play!

On Sunday mornings you can find flag football for men.  If you look closely you will see an older man walking his dog on the far side of the field.   I think this is a trick play that somehow involves the old man and the dog.

In the afternoon there are games of women's flag football.  They are surprisingly well attended!

There are so many varied things going on at the park.  Right at sunset I found Floyd fishing in the small lake.

However, there is no denying that a primary use of Yowell is for walking and running.

This is Jim ....he is a perfect example of people I meet.  Here is what I now know:  Jim was born in Missouri but never lived there.  He came to the Pepper a long time ago but moved to the DC area where he worked in delivery for over 20 years.  He said that he knows DC, Maryland and Northern VA like the back of his hand.  Then he moved to York, Pa. before coming back to the Pepper to take care of his folks.  I have killer conversations with many of these folks.  Can you see why this is interesting to me?

This cute couple is Steve and Jenny.  Steve is finishing up his certification to teach middle school math.  Maybe I can put him in touch with the right people to help him get a job in Fairfax.   Don't forget to email me Steve.

Josephina was all business.  She didn't even slow down when I asked her name .....she just yelled it over her shoulder.

This couple was minding their own business and having a nice family walk when I approached them for a picture.  They were most gracious.  Their names are Dex and Reesa.

Here we go with a tale of two Sara(h)s, both  are blonde and fit and use Yowell Park to stay in shape.

This is Sarah the walker.

AND this is Sara the runner.

This man was walking very rapidly and told me I could take his picture but that he could not stop.  He quickly told me his name ...... unfortunately I quickly forgot it.  Great mustache though!!

The more I visited Yowell Meadow Park at various times of the day,  the more things I found that put a smile on my face.  One afternoon as I parked my car I could hear a drum playing.  There were no other instruments and it was not like a snare drum, but rather a drum that you play with your hands.  Summoning all of my excellent tracking skills I walked the 100 yards or so to where Wayne T Wright was sitting on a hill playing away.  Although he was just playing for himself, you could hear the beats throughout the park.  The drum he was playing is called a jembas.  How cool is that?

I saw a couple of women, Jennifer and Carol, sitting on the park bench just talking.  It reminded me of the Paul Simon song, "Old Friends."  The great line in that song is:  "Old friends, sat on the park bench like bookends."  I told them that they reminded me of that cool line.  They told me that they had only known each other for three weeks.     Oh, well.

The fun people just kept showing up.  I ran into Dion practicing his foot work with a soccer ball.  He attends Germanna right now, but his dream is to play soccer at UVA.  I hope he makes it.  He is a nice unassuming kid.

This gentleman was hitting a few golf balls in the park.  Although he is a country club member, he lives nearby and sometimes it is easier to just slip over to the park.  He did not want to share his name, but he had a great swing!

Lynn and Jack are engaged to be married.  Best wishes to you guys!

If you hang out long enough, someone important will come by.  I have probably seen this woman walking in Yowell Park more than anyone else.  Her name is Laurel Care Grauatte and I think she is pretty important since she was appointed to the Town Council.  She told me a bit about the politics here.  I think she is a great contact to have and she just walked into my camera!

While I was talking with Laurel my neighbors, Greg and Sharon, came by.  They were enjoying the beautiful weather by walking laps around the park.

I am going to end this entry with a picture that really makes me smile.  It is of my son, Matt who is an attorney in The Pepper and his daughter and his neice ..... both grandaughters of mine, enjoying the park.

Well that's it for now.  I hate to end this one because I am sure that if I drove to the park right now there would be something or someone that I have not seen before.  Feel free to comment or to contact me on:


  1. I never knew you had such developed tracking skills! I like the park theme-I officially want to take my kids there!

  2. Sharp eyes, keen hearing, unfailing sense of direction and amazing memory combine to make great trackers.

  3. How fun! I didn't know you had a blog. I want to be a face in Culpeper some day.

  4. Love this post and love Yowell Park