Visitors to the charming town of Dayton, Virginia, are often astonished to discover the most extensive genealogy library and history museum in the Shenandoah Valley. Staff and volunteers at The Heritage Museum, home of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, have heard so many guests exclaim, “I had no idea!”that they created a sticker to promote the phrase.

The Heritage Museum saves and shares history from the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Certainly, the views are beautiful, but the bounty is remarkable. The resources of the land are why settlers stayed 300 years ago and why Union forces focused on the Valley, 150 years later. The beauty and the bounty are why the name Shenandoah Valleyis recognized well beyond the borders of Virginia, and agriculture is threaded through the history of this place.

Historic preservation and education is the foundation of The Heritage Museum. Memories from the community’s Valley roots are found in a large collection of objects, documents, photographs, and family trees. A neon pencil, a license plate stamped POULTRY CAPITAL, and a WWI helmet help tell the stories of the past in the galleries. A vintage electric map illuminates Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign of 1862. Resources in the genealogy library connect generations and help family trees grow. Throughout The Heritage Museum are opportunities to learn about the people and events that form our history, and history education is essential to understanding our place in the world today.

As the Historic Dayton Welcome Center, The Heritage Museum proudly hosts a LOVEwork photo opportunity and encourages visitors to leave the fast lane and discover the peaceful beauty of rural Rockingham.

As a nonprofit, The Heritage Museum relies on the generosity of members, volunteers, donors, and visitors. Come see why visitors say, “I had no idea!”

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The Heritage Museum is located at 382 High Street, Dayton, Virginia. The museum, genealogy library, and book & gift shop are open Monday-Saturday from 10a-5p (and Sundays from 1p-5p from April-October). For information, visit