Yesterday we drove 75 miles to Valley Forge National Historical Park, where the Continental Army, under George Washington, spent the hard winter of 1777-1778 during the American Revolution.
Being history nuts, this was a real treat for us, and we enjoyed immersing ourselves in this shrine to American liberty. We also learned a lot that we didn’t know about that pivotal time in our nation’s past.
Our first stop was the Visitors Center, where we browsed through displays on the army Winter Encampment, and then watched an 18 minute video about the events leading up to General Washington choosing Valley Forge as his winter headquarters, and what took place at Valley Forge.
Then we drove the ten mile Auto Tour Route through the park, stopping to check out replicas of the crude cabins that the soldiers lived in at Valley Forge. Twelve men lived in each cabin, which they built themselves, using meager tools and sheer manpower, under harsh conditions.
Except for a brief skirmish with the British in September, 1777, no battles were fought at Valley Forge, though as many as 2,000 troops, one tenth of the total wintering here, died of diseases such as influenza, typhus, and dysentery. But Washington was prepared for an attack by the enemy, who had seized nearby Philadelphia. The tour passed by several cannon emplacements.
The Tour Route passes by monuments to the different regiments who spent the winter at Valley Forge, as well as statues of the generals who commanded them, such as Anthony Wayne, who had a long and distinguished career of service to his country.
Another key player was the Prussian General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who trained Washington’s ragtag army and turned them into a fit fighting force.
One stop was at the beautiful National Memorial Arch, dedicated to the soldiers who spent the winter at Valley Forge.
Rank has its privileges, and Washington spent the winter in relative comfort at the handsome Isaac Potts home, which is included in the free tour of the park.
The house is furnished with period items, and decorated as it would have been during Washington’s time there.
By the time we finished our tour of Valley Forge, it was 5 p.m., and we had to fight traffic to get back to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and headed back west. We couldn’t leave the area without one more stop at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord, and as it turns out, Tuesday is seafood night. They had four kinds of shrimp, grilled salmon and swordfish, crab cakes, and mussels, as well as steak, chicken, and lots of other goodies. We left the place absolutely stuffed.
When we came through Ephrata on the drive back to the Thousand Trails campground, the main street was closed down for the Ephrata Fair, which takes place this week, and we had to detour around a couple of blocks. We noticed that the sidewalks were lined with chairs where people had saved themselves a space for all of the fun events, and I remarked to Terry that in a lot of places, those chairs would have disappeared overnight. Don’t you just love small towns?
Back at the motorhome, we watched some TV, answered some e-mails,and it was bedtime. We were tired after our long day of sightseeing, and that bed sure looked good!
Thought For The Day – If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.