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Trot Back in Time: Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides

Updated: May 15

Fluvanna Community Historical Society Offers Third Annual Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides, Reliving History and Centered This Year at the War Vets


Imagine a serene countryside scene captured in the warm hues of a late afternoon. In the foreground, a stately horse stands, its coat a glossy chestnut brown, muscles defined with each brushstroke, exuding a sense of calm strength. Attached to the horse is an elegant carriage, its design reminiscent of the refined carriages of the 18th century, with large spoked wheels and a curved body that suggests both comfort and status.  The carriage is positioned on a dirt path that meanders gently through the landscape, leading the eye towards the verdant background. The surrounding fields are a tapestry of greens, dotted with the occasional wildflower in bloom, suggesting the richness of the English countryside.  Above, the sky is a soft expanse of blue, with wisps of white clouds drifting lazily, casting a gentle light that bathes the entire scene in a tranquil glow. The trees in the distance stand as silent witnesses to this peaceful tableau, their leaves whispering in the light breeze.  This painting by John Nost Sartorius is not just a mere representation of a horse and carriage; it is a window into a bygone era, a moment of stillness and beauty, inviting the viewer to pause and reflect on the simplicity and grace of a time when life moved at the pace of a horse's trot. It's a visual poem that celebrates the harmonious relationship between humans, animals, and nature.
John Nost Sartorius, "A Horse and Carriage in a Landscape," oil on canvas, dimensions 43.1 x 54 cm (16 3/4 x 21 1/4 inches), date unknown. Private collection. Renowned for his ability to capture the elegance of the equestrian world, Sartorius paintings often reflect a romanticized view of the countryside, where the relationship between humans and horses is celebrated.

Celebrate spring, community and history with us on June 8th and 9th by taking a journey into the past, as the Fluvanna Community Historical Society (FCHS), in partnership with Laff N Lyon Ranch, presents an enchanting weekend of horse-drawn wagon rides. This unique event offers a rare opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, and perspectives of our community, much like our ancestors did when horses were the primary mode of transportation.


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Event Details:

  • Date: June 8th (Saturday) and 9th (Sunday)

  • Time: Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM, Sunday from 10 AM to 3 PM

  • Duration: Each ride will last approximately 15 minutes

  • Location: Meet us at the historic War Vets, 3431 Fluvanna Avenue Ext., Fluvanna, NY 14701


Third Annual Celebration:

This year would have been our third year in a row to offer sleighrides, but due to past winter's lack of snow, we moved our traditional equine centered event to June. But the spirit of the sleigh rides remain, inviting you to create new memories while honoring our history.


A Glimpse of History:

This year, the horse-drawn wagon rides will not take place at Fluvanna's historic Meeting House, but just a stones throw down the road. Nestled in the heart of Fluvanna stands a structure known today as the “War Vets,” a place of camaraderie and remembrance for the people of Fluvanna and veterans across the region. But this building, which now echoes with the stories and laughter of lighthearted social gatherings, began its life with a very different purpose.


Originally constructed as a horse barn, this romantic, castle-like edifice was part of a grand estate that sprawled across the area and well beyond what we now know as Ivystone and Upper Bentley. Its sturdy walls and charming turrets were once surrounded by a network of bridal paths that crisscrossed the countryside, lined with ornamental bridges and gardens that have since faded into memory.


Today, besides the old brick structure itself, only a few charming gateways remain; silent sentinels to a bygone era when horseback riding and carriage drives were the day’s leisure activities. These paths were the veins through which life flowed, connecting the community in a way that modern roads cannot replicate.


As we prepare for this year’s horse-drawn wagon rides, we aim to offer a glimpse into this past. The event is not just a nod to history; it’s an invitation to experience the tranquility and beauty that our ancestors knew so well. It’s a chance to slow down and see the world through their eyes, if only for a short while.


This year, especially, we seek to honor and preserve this beautiful legacy. The rides will traverse the remnants of those once-bustling paths, allowing participants to feel the gentle rhythm of hooves and the creak of wheels, to see the landscape unfold at a pace that invites appreciation.


By joining us, you’re not only learning about Fluvanna’s rich equestrian history; you’re helping to keep it alive. Each carriage ride is a step towards re-creating a small portion of the splendor that once defined this community.


We welcome you to be part of this endeavor, to support the preservation of our history, and to enjoy a moment of connection with the land and its stories. Together, let’s celebrate the "War Vets'" legacy and ensure it continues to be a beacon and heritage for generations to come.


Reserve Your Spot:

We encourage you to reserve your ride online. While there is no set ticket price, we welcome donations or suggest signing up for an Historical Society membership, which includes free wagon, carriage or sleigh rides for the cost of a membership. Just click the "Book Now" button to learn more and save your spot:



Donuts for the Ride: Support the Historical Society

National Doughnut Day also happens to fall on the same weekend as our horse-drawn wagon rides. Celebrate veterans, the "Doughnut Dollies" that served the troops on the frontlines and support our cause by purchasing Krispy Kreme doughnuts or coffee, available for pick-up on Friday, June 7th, and Saturday, June 8th. Enjoy these treats on your ride or take them home to share with family and friends. Orders can be placed through our donut fundraiser page. (You can read more about National Doughnut Day and this annual observance's deep historical roots here).


Don’t miss this chance to connect with Fluvanna’s heritage and create lasting memories. Book your spot today and be part of preserving the history that shapes our community.


We look forward to welcoming you to this special event and sharing the rich tapestry of Fluvanna’s past.

 
This is the logo of the Fluvanna Community Historical Society featuring Fluvanna's historic Meeting House in a stylized fashion and customized to mark the occasion with spring flowers and butterflies.

The Fluvanna Community Historical Society is a registered 501(c)(3) organization, provisionally chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York, and dedicated to connecting our community with our past, with each other and with a brighter future.


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