Inns, taverns and mom-and-pop hotels up and down the east coast often stretch the truth in trying to lure history buffs by claiming “George Washington Slept Here.”
For sites in Montco, however, the claim rings true.
Of course, the most well-known is perhaps Valley Forge, where Washington and his beleaguered troops spent a brutal winter hunkered down in survival mode for six months.
However, the Continental Army also maneuvered throughout other Montco locations, such a present-day Skippack, where today’s Route 73 was a common access route; Peter Wentz Farmstead, which twice was designated as a patriot HQ; and Whitemarsh, which, like Valley Forge, housed a soldier encampment.
The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board (VFTCB) has linked these sites in customizable itineraries that can be accessed from a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. The Patriot Trails experience is free, except for charges that may be incurred at each destination. And the VFTCB invites you to begin your journey here.
The scope of the tours – designed for both locals and out-of-towners – was purposefully created to be wide. The information describes each location and what visitors can expect to see and do there. But it also recommends side trips, nearby restaurants and, for history fans who may have traveled some distance to get here, places to stay.
Digging further into the VFTCB site reveals additional detail. A gallery is included, outlining some of the well-known (and lesser-known) personalities that helped shape the campaign against Great Britain.
Among the interesting tidbits is the fact that General Washington’s wife, Martha, was onsite with him at the winter encampment at Valley Forge; in fact, she was present at all eight winter encampments of the Revolutionary War.
Records show that in February 1778, Lady Washington lifted the troop’s sagging spirits by throwing a birthday party for her husband, which included a fruit-and-spirits-based cake, a few celebratory volleys of musket fire and shouts of “Huzzah!” Each February, the park and its staff recreate this scene, complete with the General cutting his birthday cake with a huge sword.
If Patriot Trails sounds like something you and your family might enjoy, be sure to check out the video above. It tells the story of two young boys who, after a visit to Valley Forge National Historical Park, decide that playacting roles as Continental soldiers trumps their handheld devices and big-screen video games.
To learn more about Patriot Trails, click here.