Monday, November 10, 2014

Where's Willow? - Pennsylvania (Day 4)

Today we went to the village of  Valley Forge.  The most famous thing there now is the Valley Forge National Park .  Nonna brought Amy with us and the bikes. (Amy is an Our Generation Kendra).

Here we are up at the National Memorial Arch .

Nonna said a lot of people who aren't from around here ask her when they visit where the battlefield is.  She says she always tells them to look around, it's everywhere, because there was no Battle of Valley Forge.  Soldiers wintered here in 1776 and many died, froze or starved because they weren't ready for a cold, snowy Pennsylvania winter.  There's a lot of information about what's become the Park online so Nonna says I don't need to tell you everything!

Next, we rode over to see the cannons - I mean, the Griffen Guns !


The Griffen Gun is the black part that I'm sitting on here. These cannons were used all over during the Civil Way and came back to Valley Forge for display.  Nonna remembers climbing on them when she was a little girl.

From there, Nonna took us over to Washington's Headquarters when he stayed for the cold winter.  Nonna told us that we were passing the rubble of the three old forges that use to line the creek which is how Valley Forge got its name.  She said we could have hiked up to them but it's a lot of rocks with plants on them now.

Washington's Headquarters is special for Nonna because it use to belong to the lady who helped form her church.  The lady lived there until she died and then the house became part of the park.  The park even becoming a park was a challenge because it crosses two counties and people were still living in the historic houses when a group of diligent preservationists decided we should not loose Valley Forge completely to the passage of time.  Pretty cool, huh?

This is me in front of the sign at the top of the hill to get to Washington's HQ from the parking lot.  (Pennsylvania has a LOT of hills).  

On our way down to HQ, we got to explore some cabins.

Nonna says the cabins are NOT 200+ years old.  They were built but the boy scouts in the 1970's to commemorate the original cabins the soldiers built.  Sadly,a lot of the soldiers didn't have cabins with fireplaces like this because most hadn't traveled with axes and tools.  A lot of them just huddled around campfires.  These men were tough.

So here's me with HQ behind me.

A little to the left of this picture is another larger house where Mrs. Washington stayed when she came to Valley Forge.  It too was a private home the American military used while in Valley Forge.  In fact, any home that was standing in the winter of 1776 either had an officer staying in it (which you wanted so they wouldn't commandeer all your stuff) or most or all of their livestock and food and other resources were taken for the army.  Someone at Nonna's church wrote a really good book about the women in the area at that time and just how brave they were too. A real live author at church!  

On our way back to the car (the Park is BIG so we didn't bike everywhere), Nonna took us past the railroad tracks.  If you look closely, you can see the river too.  Washington used these to supply the army and keep tabs on Philadelphia where the British spent the winter (it's about 25 miles away).

Nonna then took me to see her church.  It's about as old as Falling Waters Presbyterian in West Virginia, built in 1834.  Nonna's church, currently known as Valley Forge United Methodist Church (it's always been Methodist, but they weren't always united apparently), was formed in 1832 and built in 1837.  In those five years, the church met at the house now known as Washington's HQ and at the home that is now the Park Superintendent's house (the original people were brother and sister).  Interestingly, the community that formed this new congregation started out as Owenites .  I had no idea what that was, but Nonna said they were basically hippies and communists in colonial times.

Here I am outside the church. 

The black and white picture is the oldest know picture of the church and comes from a family history book published in 1901.  Nonna said the original congregation wanted a very modern looking church back in 1837 so later, people added the stained glass and made the inside look, well, colonial.

Look how small this building is! It's almost doll sized!

Oh, here's a doll sized one in the basement...maybe a little too small but the Snickerdoodle Street gang would love it!

Just enough time for one more trip around the parking lot with Amy!


  1. Wow, your girls are lucky! They get to go to so many fun places.

  2. What a great idea to see Valley Forge by bicycle on a beautiful autumn day!

  3. I love Valley Forge National Park! So much history there.
    Did you see the Carillon? That's my favorite place to visit there.
    Did you see any of the deer? A ton live in the park.

    1. My father in law is buried in the park so yes, we did see that but I thought readers would prefer to see what we highlighted to the cemetery, Boy Scout Museum etc. :) (you are close)