1777.Autumn. despite a mighty defense along the Brandywine at Chadds Ford, the British Army under General William Howe occupies Philadelphia. the Continental Congress has fled to Lancaster, then York. On December 17, under the command of General George Washington, the bloodied, beaten and battle weary Continental Army of 12,000 arrives at Valley Forge along the Schuylkill River. Misery was the word. Cold. Hunger.
Washington appoints Nathanael Greene as Quartermaster-General. Greene sends agents as far as Virginia to buy animals, Greene builds bridges and roads to storehouses in Reading. Greene procures boats, wagons and tents. Greene develops a system of grain depots. Greene “foraged the country naked.” Still, 3,000 soldiers die, 2,000 desert.
1778.February 23rd. Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin, aka. Baron von Stuben, from Magdeburg, Prussia (now Germany) arrives in Valley Forge. Here, he writess and put into practice ”Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,” aka. Army’s “blue book.”
1778. June. The Continental Army leaves Valley Forge. In October, the British surrender. Hardly fifty years later, in 1825, The Schuylkill Navigation System opens and in 1841 the P&R Ry.
In 1893 a state park was established and the P&R found itself with a popular Main Line stop. In 1911 P&R built a beautiful colonial revival station a stones-throw from Washington’s headquarters. In 1911 P&R was busy and spending $$$$ elevating the 9th Street Branch to Wayne Junction. For the Valley Forge station, the design came from an in house engineer-architect, NIce work!
We’re always poking fun at the PRR/P&R ‘who’s got the bigger trainshed‘ thing; at Valley Forge, during hardly unknown periods of great cooperation, PRR and P&R hustled thousands of boy scouts to Valley Forge Jamborees in 1950, 1953 and ’57. PRR’s Schuylkill Valley Branch Betzwood Station was just a walk across the old iron roadway bridge. In 1950, the exact week North Korean armies crossed the 38th parallel, PRR carried 20,000 Scouts, and P&R 34,000. Many extra trains handled side trips to Washington, Atlantic City, New York, and of course Philadelphia.
As a bicentennial gift to the nation, the state of Pennsylvania conveyed the park to the National Park System.
and there it remains. Exquisitely restored by John Milner Architects in 2009, Valley Forge Station works for the National Park Service as a reception and staging facility for visitors to Washington’s Headquarters and related structures.
As the conjuring and imagineering of VIADUCTgreene rolls along, it’s good to step back; rehash, reconsider, retrain, reimagine, reinvent. recast. restore. and then get back to the job at hand.