Solar project threatens historic mansions, landscapes along Rapidan River

On June 30, 2019, the Culpeper Star Exponent published an article describing the impact a proposed 1300-acre utility-scale solar project would have on the antebellum properties surrounding Raccoon Ford.

An excerpt:

RACCOON FORD—Before war came, Congressman and secessionist Jeremiah Morton designed three mansions along a few miles of Algonquin Trail in southern Culpeper County.

The stately homes withstood armies’ fighting, encampment and occupation during the Civil War, and still stand today. Restored by their owners, they have storied pasts and anchor former plantations near the Rapidan River, named by a Colonial governor for Queen Anne of England.

Farmland surrounds the graceful houses—Greenville, Struan and Sumerduck—in an area on the Rapidan that’s mostly untouched by time and steeped in early history, including that of Indians and African-Americans. The countryside also yields many accounts from the War Between the States.

“Where else in the country do you have a Civil War laboratory like this? Nothing has changed,” Civil War historian Clark “Bud” Hall said during a visit to the mansions of Algonquin Trail.

Change could be coming, though, as county officials consider allowing a utility-scale solar plant to be built on 807 acres of agriculturally zoned parcels along the rural route.

Cricket Solar LLC, the project’s developer in Irvine, California, says the green initiative will generate enough electricity to power 15,000 homes a year.

The Culpeper County Planning Department is reviewing revisions to an application submitted in December by Cricket that would place more than 270,000 solar panels in the Raccoon Ford area.

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