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Pennsylvania: Valley Forge National Historical Monument

Visiting the winter encampment of the Continental Army where 2000 of its entourage died from disease and starvation but was a vital time in the preparing to meet the British forces

The state of Pennsylvania is the cradle of historical events that shaped the United States of America. Philadelphia was established as the nation’s first capital, but before that, the country had to fight for its independence from Great Britain.

On our road trip through Pennsylvania, we discovered a National Park that we were totally unfamiliar with. Valley Forge, located 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia, had a very important role in the War of Independence, but unlike many monuments, this was not the site of a battle. Valley Forge is the location of the 1777-1778 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. Here the Continental Army, a collection of disparate colonial militias, emerged under Washington’s leadership as a cohesive and disciplined fighting force. On December 19th, 1777, 12,000 soldiers and 400 women and children marched into Valley Forge and began to build what would become the fourth largest city in the United States, with 1,500 log huts and two miles of fortifications. Concentrating the soldiers in one vast camp allowed the army to protect the countryside and be better able to resist a British attack, but it became costly when lack of supplies and hunger afflicted the inhabitants, and diseases like influenza and typhoid spread through the camp. While there was never a battle at Valley Forge disease killed nearly 2,000 people during the encampment.

What’s left today is an interpretation area where there are several huts that represents how the troops lived over that winter of 1777.  To get a better appreciation of the events that took place at Valley Forge we joined a Park Ranger tour. This took us around several of the cabins which were fitted out as they were believed to be at the time of the occupation of the Continental Army. Also, there were some docents dressed as militiamen who explained how their muskets worked and demonstrated the use of the canon. This is always a big hit with the children!

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Valley Forge National Park. It gave us a wonderful insight into a period of history that we were not too familiar with, especially the significance of the winter of 1777 and the role it played in preparing the Continental Army for the challenges it faced in the war for independence.

Two volunteers dressed as soldiers in the Continental Army
Jack poses with a volunteer
Jack & his dad playing with a canon
Park Ranger tour - Checking out the replica of living quarter

Planning your visit to Valley Forge

Location:1400 North Outer Line Drive King of Prussia, PA 19406
Telephone: 
Website:https://www.nps.gov/index.htm
Hours:The park is open from 7:00 am to Dark (30 minutes after sunset) all year. Park buildings are closed, but park grounds remain open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.
Admission Fee:Free of charge

Places to visit near Valley Forge

1. INDEPENDENCE HALL

During the blistering summer of 1776, 56 courageous men gathered at the Pennsylvania State House and defied the King of England.

Eleven years later, representatives from 12 states gathered to shape the U.S. Constitution, finally creating one unified nation.

2. PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART

The Philadelphia Museum of Art and its the “Rocky Steps” may have been immortalized in the classic Rocky film franchise, but the cultural institution is even more impressive inside. The astounding collection here comprises art from across the globe and through the ages — including Renaissance, American, Asian, impressionist and contemporary masterpieces —to make the museum one of the most important art destinations in the country. In 2018, more than 730,000 visitors came to take in the museum’s seemingly endless body of work.

3. LIBERTY BELL CENTRE

Part of the U.S. National Park Service and Independence National Park, the Liberty Bell’s home on Independence Mall looms as powerful and dramatic as the bell itself.

Throughout the expansive, light-filled center, larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images explore the facts and the myths surrounding the bell.

Where to stay near Valley Forge

1. THE RITTENHOUSE HOTEL (5-STAR)

Within walking distance of major museums, world-class shopping and the business district, this prestigious hotel in Philadelphia city centre, on Rittenhouse Square, offers a fitness centre with cardio equipment and free weights.

The Rittenhouse Spa and Club – Hair by Paul Lebrecque offers complimentary access to an indoor heated pool and terrace.

Lacroix at The Rittenhouse is an award-winning restaurant that serves progressive international cuisine.

Offering British tea and cocktails in a cosy living-room atmosphere, the Mary Cassatt Tea Room opens up to a private outdoor garden.

2. THE MORRIS HOUSE HOTEL

This national historic landmark, renovated into a luxury boutique hotel, offers cosy accommodations and 18th-century charm.

The Morris House Hotel offers uniquely decorated rooms that are accessible by stairs only, complete with charming views of the private garden or city. Free WiFi is included.

Guests at the hotel can enjoy a delicious grab-and-go continental breakfast every morning and afternoon tea with homemade cookies.

Only a short distance from the Morris House are some of Philadelphia’s main attractions. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are moments away. A number of world-renowned restaurants, shops and theatres are also within walking distance.

3. APPLE HOSTELS OF PHILIDELPHIA

Apple Hostels of Philadelphia is located in Philadelphia within 1,650 feet of The Museum of the American Revolution and Independence National Historical Park. Free WiFi access is available.

Each room will provide guests with air conditioning. Individual beds offer a reading light.

At Apple Hostels of Philadelphia guests will find a 24-hour front desk and a shared kitchen. Other facilities offered at the property include a pool table, foosball table, Xbox, free computers and iPad stations, guitars and a TV area. Laundry facilities are also available.

Free coffee and tea is available 24 hours, and complimentary dinner and drinks are offered on select evenings.

The hostel is 350 feet from National Liberty Museum, 1,650 feet from Liberty Bell and 0.7 mi from Pennsylvania Convention Center. Philadelphia International Airport is 7.5 mi away.

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