Valley Forge, Philadelphia
Valley Forge National Historical Park is a wide-open nature space where one can get a different perspective on the events that led to the United States' independence. Considered as the "birthplace of the continental army", Valley Forge is where George Washington's troops spent the winter of 1777-1778. No battles occurred here, but rather an effective drilling by a Prussian army officer by the name of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben. While nothing remains of the actual camp, reconstructions and memorials have been set up here and there to commemorate the soldiers' resilience and courage under harsh conditions.
To get there, we took bus 125 at the intersection of 13th Street and Market Street -- the trip took about one hour, and we got to see the huge King of Prussia Mall along the way. If you also plan on taking the bus, check out the schedule on the SEPTA website (www.septa.org), since the bus runs hourly on weekdays and less often on weekends.
We walked the paved multi-use trail, which can probably be done in 2-3 hours if you skip all attractions on the way as well as the detour to Washington's headquarters. (We stopped for the attractions along the trail, but did not go to Washington's headquarters.) For those who prefer a quicker mode of transportation, there is a bike rental shop near the canteen outside the Welcome Center.
The canteen sells the usual range of American fast foods and there are snack machines in the Welcome Center, but I strongly recommend bringing your own picnic: the park is a wide-open space that simply cries for picnic blankets and lazing on the grass.
The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Valley Forge is an indellible moment in the American psyche. Soldiers pushed to the limits of a harsh Pennsylvania winter, bearing it all for liberty. Valley Forge is now a large park with some historic points to keep tourist occupied. A trail goes around the park for roughly 4 miles and is well worth a trip around it. There is also a freemason arc erected in honor of Washington.
1) This place is of historic interest, strangely enough, because of what DIDN'T happen here. Namely, in the winter of 1777-1778, the Continental Army did NOT fall apart, as it very easily could have.
Alexander Hamilton, in charge of getting supplies to the army, found out what happens when you have no strong, central government to manage threats to American security or values. Thousands of soldiers went weeks without adequate food, clothing, shelter, warmth, or medical attention. None of them received anything of material value for their suffering -- the phrase "Worthless as a continental dollar" came from the worth of their "pay" -- and none had any guarantee that this misery would lead to anything worth dying for. Indeed, since General Washington's army had been beaten (often badly) in every major battle it had with the British, it was perfectly reasonable to think there was no hope of this army winning this war. Worse, it was an army in name only. There was no centralized training, discipline, or command structure -- more like several separate armies, with little sense of connection between them.
Yet SOMEHOW this (literally) rag-tag group held together. By spring, it was more disciplined than ever before; by the summer of 1778, it could take on British troops as equals.
This fact of survival through misery makes Valley Forge an important symbol of American resolve. You won't find much here of direct historical interest, but you may well be awe-struck by how Washington's Army avoided catastrophe.
2) Because the area is considered almost sacred soil, no development has occurred on these fields for over a century -- it has been park land since 1893. As such, you can actually get a little bit of nature here. Fields and forests are all around, and deer roam freely. If you want a quiet break from the noise of Philly, come here for an afternoon.
3) Because development has been deliberately stymied in this area, recreation opportunities abound. You can hike, bike, or skate for a couple hours; or take the Schuylkill River Trail all the way to Market Street in downtown.
It's an odd juxtapositon here: solemn history, quiet contemplation, roller-bladers zipping down the trails. It's not easy for the park to balance all these demands for its use, as it's never clear the real "purpose" of the park. But, if you're looking for any of the above, you'll find them here.
Not too far, if you're a history buff, you can't beat it. If not, it's still a beautiful place to visit.
This house was George Washington's headquarters at Valley Forge.
On the way home we took a road that led us to Valley Forge, it was alittle out of the way but not by much.
Check out my Valley Forge page.
Valley Forge was the site of the encampment during the US war for its independence.
War Reenactments are held in this huge historic park.
Outside Philadelphia in Penslvania is a Cty located, called Valley Forge. It's an interesting place to visit, there you'll find the Road of Muhlenbergs Brigade and a beautiful countryside.....