Valley Forge National Historical Park is, of course, where the Continental Army spent the winter of 1777-1778. The name has become synonymous with the hardships endured by the army and the leadership of George Washington. We went to the temporary Visitors Center. The permanent Visitors Center is very large and probably wonderful, but it is being remodeled. After picking up a brochure, we watched the introductory movie about the difficult winter at Valley Forge. Then we headed out to the grounds.
The first thing you need to understand about visiting Valley Forge National Historical Park is that it is HUGE! The army was spread out over 3,500 acres and the park encompasses all of that. Washington’s Headquarters is miles from the Visitors Center. There are 30 miles of trails, including a paved trail that circles the entire park. When the Continental Army camped here there were 12,000 men divided into regiments from each state. Each regiment had their area and each squad (about 10 men) built their own log cabin. Each state provisioned its own men, which meant that some regiments had plenty (Connecticut) while other regiments had nothing (North Carolina).
Today you can take a driving tour around the grounds or rent bicycles in order to see everything. Tom and I walked up to the Muhlenberg cabins and checked out Redoubt 2, a much better fortification than Fort Necessity. Rangers give shooting demonstrations and interpret these cabins. We drove some of the Outer Line Drive and saw the National Memorial Arch.
Then we headed over to Washington’s Headquarters. This area has a museum built in 1911. The original stone house that Washington used as a residence and office is still standing. There are a variety of statues and monuments in the area as well.
Although Valley Forge is interesting, it is also extremely crowded with people everywhere. We were disappointed that the Visitors Center museum was closed. Although there are lots of parking places, it was still difficult to find a place big enough to park the truck. The surrounding city presses on the park and residents use the park for recreation, which makes it even more crowded. We are glad we went, but we probably won’t go back.