"The soldiers built these huts during the six month hiatus here, a winter encampment," said Don Naimoli of the Valley Forge Park Alliance. "They came in here as a disorganized 13 separate fighting forces. They left here as one army."
A slice of that era is captured in the historical displays that folks like Naimoli helped acquire the funding to build. Replicas of 12-person huts with wooden bunk beds line the pathways where thousands of their kind once stood. Park rangers dressed in costume roam the grounds to interpret history for guests. The sprawling landscapes are riddled with history for children and adults alike to enjoy.
"It's just neat to have a hands-on experience for the kids," said Elise McClure, who visited with her family on a road trip from North Carolina. "We've learned history throughout the year, so it's nice to kind of see it in person."
Anna Pilato from Berwyn, Pennsylvania, was impressed by what she discovered.
"We saw the cannons, which I found pretty cool," she said. "And then, we saw the huts and we saw how, like, they had to survive the winters here."
Naimoli, the former chair of the Valley Forge Park Alliance and a current board member, says it's important to remember all that was sacrificed to begin the great experiment known as the United States of America.
"It was a difficult winter. 2,000 men died because of malnutrition, disease," he said. "And I think we need to remember that and the lives of all of the men and women since that time that have fought to preserve what they started."
The park boasts 3,500 acres with walkable trails and vehicle routes that cut through meadows of monuments. To learn more, visit their website.
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