The story of Timberville begins in the mid 1700’s when trappers and hunters first ventured into the Valley. Two forts were built near the North Fork of the Shenandoah River prior to the French and Indian War. One known as Fort Run became the earliest name for the area. The main business district in the town developed along Main Street on the north shore of the river. In 1814, Abraham Williamson built a store along the river which was the primary means of transportation into the area. The town became known as Williamsport. In 1827, Williamson sold his store to William G. Thompson who subsequently owned a large number of acres on the north shore. The name of the town changed to Thompson’s Store and later to Riddle’s Tavern. As early as 1839, some folks were calling the area Timberville referring to the abundant forests in the area. That name became official in 1884 when the town of Timberville was incorporated.
About 1756, an unknown trapper built the earliest house in Timberville, a hut on the north bank of the river near the current bridge. The house still stands there today. According to William A. Good, Scrapbook of Happenings in Timberville, VA, in 1796 Lewis Swern received a grant for a tract of seven acres along the river including a log house. It then passed through a number of owners including Nicholas Cairn, Michael Trout, Noah Trout and finally, in 1816, John Zigler. Zigler lived in the log house until 1832 when he built the brick house nearby on Main St.
Ten years ago in 2012, Stephanie Langton, a graduate architectural student at the University of Virginia assisted by town historian Bev Garber, completed a year- long research project documenting the history of Timberville. The new exhibit at Plains District Memorial Museum is based on her study which culminated in the designation of 125 acres and 147 properties located primarily on the north side of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River as the Timberville Historic District. (Interested in a specific property? A file of her research for each property is available for personal research.)
The exhibit revisits Main St. in the late 19th and early 20th century exploring the stores, shops, offices, houses, and civic organizations that lined the street. In the center of the exhibit is the 1916 hand powered hose cart (on loan from the TVFD) used by the first Fire Department in the Town. Also featured is the Dr. Welty B. Fahrney Collection of Historical Photographs from the early 1900’s which were donated to the Museum by Mr. and Mrs. Robert (Twig) Strickler in 2006.
On Sept. 17, the Museum celebrates its 24th annual Heritage Day. A highlight of the day will feature a virtual tour of the Historic District led by Town Historian Bev Garber and Helen Smith, exhibit coordinator. Details later.
The exhibit is free to the public will be on display through December 2022.