Valley Forge National Historical Park
1400 Outer Line Dr., King of Prussia, 610/783-1077
HOURS: 8 a.m.–6 p.m. June–Sept., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Oct.–May
While no battles were fought here, the lush fields of Valley Forge were the site of the most challenging and one of the most critical periods of the Revolutionary War for the Continental Army. During the six months they were encamped here in the winter of 1777–1778, around 2,000 men were lost to sickness and disease. The army was lacking food and medical supplies and was ill-equipped to deal with the weather.
Despite their extreme suffering, this is known as a time when the army came together, survived, and got stronger, and by sheer force of will went on to win the war.
A renovated visitors center and interactive displays and tours have made Valley Forge more interesting than ever. The Historical Society Museum houses a collection of 4,000 artifacts and memorabilia and exhibits that include “Determined to Persevere” and “Forging a Nation,” which tell the story of the troops. You can tour Washington’s original stone headquarters, restored and furnished, and other replicated structures.
There are statues and monuments throughout the park commemorating the army and costumed interpreters help bring the period to life. Once Upon a Nation, the same group responsible for the storytelling benches throughout Independence Park, have costumed storytellers at Valley Forge and they offer guided trolley tours and an after-hours tour from April/May to October.
Connected to Philadelphia by the Schuylkill River Trail and adjacent to Valley Creek, Mount Joy, and Mount Misery, Valley Forge National Historical Park offers miles of hiking trails, with connections to other parks via the Perkiomen Trail. Some of the trails expose hikers to Revolutionary War history and equipment, colonial architecture, and fascinating stories from the 18th century. The Joseph Plumb Martin Trail links key historical sites in the park to one another, and Horseshoe Trail connects George Washington’s campsite to the Appalachian Trail.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition