The winter of 1777-78 was actually mild by Pennsylvania standards, but for 12,000 poorly-clothed rebels it was hard enough. Following a retreat from Philadelphia, General George Washington’s army arrived at Valley Forge on December 19 to keep British soldiers from scouring the countryside for winter provisions. Soldiers quickly set about building log cabins and cutting firewood, establishing the fourth-largest city in the colonies.
Museum, film, reconstructed cabins, National Memorial Arch, Washington’s headquarters
The Encampment Tour is a 10-mile driving route that takes you to reconstructed cabins, earthwork redoubts, and General George Washington’s headquarters which contains 80% original artifacts. Primarily due to a lack of food and hygiene, approximately 2,500 soldiers died at Valley Forge, many from typhus, influenza, and pneumonia. This represented about 7% of the army’s total fatalities during the Revolutionary War. Those that survived the hardships became an elite fighting force; however, many of them would spend the remaining years of the war waiting for orders that never came to attack British-held New York City.
A paved trail follows much of the driving tour route and is popular with joggers and bikers. The Schuylkill River Trail goes all the way from Valley Forge to Philadelphia.
The National Memorial Arch was dedicated in 1917, one more reason this beautiful park is frequented by local joggers.
Summer. Although it would be more authentic, you may not want to visit this park during the cold and snowy winter months.
All roads paved, but freeway traffic in this Philadelphia suburb can be congested during rush hour.
French Creek State Park (next to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site) offers a campground 25 miles northwest of Valley Forge National Historical Park.
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