Here in the 'burbs of Philly, we're really quite fortunate to have so many wonderful places to day trip and adventure to. Though I pass it so frequently, I rarely take the time to stop and appreciate Valley Forge National Park. This weekend, despite the damp morning, my boyfriend and I decided to venture over to the park to see some of the sights we've missed out on in the past.
We started with the Valley Forge Train Station, which I actually didn't even know existed. What a treat! This is a beautiful building that once functioned as a train station for the village of Valley Forge. Now a museum displaying relics of the past, it's great to stroll through and the view from the porch of Washington's Headquarters can't be beat.
After the train station, we walked over to Washington's Headquarters. I was informed by one of the Park Ranger's that the building isn't always open, so try to get there on weekends in the warmer months if you want to check out the interior of this space! Truly the 'crown jewel' of the grounds, Washington's Headquarters is one of the only buildings on the park grounds that hasn't required tons of renovation or reproduction. The archaeologist in me was geeking out over the bake oven (you can sort of see it sticking out of the side of the house there on the left). Though most of the furniture inside of the space isn't original, they made a huge effort to bring in antiques that match what would have been on-site at the time of Washington's stay. For instance, the Ranger told me that when archaeological evidence produced fragments of ceramics, they went and found matching (and intact) pieces to display for guests to get the full-picture.
As per the recommendation of the Park Ranger at Washington's Headquarters, we continued our trek by going through Inner Line Drive, which allowed us to check out some of the earthworks mounds that the soldiers built up as a means of defense. Though they are not quite the size they would have been in 1777, they are still visible throughout the park (I've included a picture of this!).
After we had some lunch (we packed!), we made our way over to the lot for Varnum's Headquarters, which was quite interesting. As it turns out, most of the park was once farmland (and the Forge) and the troops essentially rented out peoples' private homes for the encampment. What I thought was the back door of the home was actually the front (the back went and still does go out to the road), so the front would have overlooked all of their land.
Finally, we sat on the stairs of the Washington Monument Memorial and took in the view (and the sun that was finally peeking out!). It still amazes me that I learn so many new facts about Valley Forge National Park each time that I go, and I'm sure there is still a bunch more to learn.
If you haven't gone, you should definitely check out their Encampment Tour.
Another successful Philadelphia suburbs weekend in the books :)