Valley Forge National Park
National Park Service
PO Box 953
1400 North Outer Line Drive
Valley Forge, PA 19481
(610) 783-1077 • 783-1066 School Groups

After losing Philadelphia to the British, Washington chose Valley Forge as the best location for an encampment. The British would be inhibited from raiding interior portions of Pennsylvania, and the high ground would be defensible.

On December 19, 1777, Washington's army of 12,000 marched into Valley Forge tired, cold, and ill-equipped. Poorly clothed and living in crowded, damp quarters, 2,000 men died that winter of typhus, typhoid, dysentery, and pneumonia. Very simply stated, it was a brutal experience, tolerated only by virtue of the men's conviction to win freedom from British oppression.

On February 23, 1778, Friedrich von Steuben arrived on the scene with a letter of recommendation from Benjamin Franklin. Previously a general with Frederick the Great of Prussia, he was almost immediately appointed Acting Inspector General of the Continental Army and assigned the task of developing and carrying out a training program.

History shows that he did an outstanding job. By the time Washington's Grand Army paraded in May of 1778, celebrating the French alliance with America, it was a spirited, well-trained fighting machine.

Valley Forge is a fascinating story of courage and endurance. The entire story is not only told, but shown, at Valley Forge Park. A visit begins with an audio-visual program and exhibits on the winter of 1777-78. Visitors, guided by maps, proceed through the park in a ten-mile driving tour, stopping to see historic sites and structures. Among them are more than fifty reconstructed huts, statues honoring heroes of the Revolution, and the newly renovated Isaac Potts House -- Washington's Headquarters. Every day during the summer and on winter weekends, some of the sites are manned by costumed interpreters.

The park provides excellent maps and guides. Visitors also have the option of purchasing tickets on a bus that stops regularly at each site, allowing them to spend as much time as they want to explore an area.

Throughout the year the Park holds a variety of family events, including military re-enactments, Ranger-led programs, and other activities. Call for a calendar.

School Groups can enjoy one of four great programs. Soldier Life: The Revolutionary Soldier explores the life and the motives of the Patriot soldier. Fortifying the Camp: Redoubts and Entrenchments gives insight into how Valley Forge and other camps were protected. George Washington: The Soldier, The Man is an in-depth look at the father of our nation. Small Things Forgotten: Exploring Material Culture shows how archaeology helps us uncover the past. A video is available for use in school, and teachers are encouraged to visit the park before bringing their groups.

Hours: Visitor Center & Washington's HQ open daily, 9am - 5pm. Ten-Mile Driving Tour open daily, 6am - 10pm. Washington Memorial Chapel open 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday, 1 pm to 5 pm Sunday. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Call to confirm before visiting or see the official website linked above.
FREE to park. For Washington's HQ, Trolley Tours cost $16.00 for adults, $13.00 for students, seniors & active military, and $$8.00 for children 11 and under. Call to confirm.
Group Reservations: At least 10 weeks for School Programs, 30 days for group visits recommended.
Lunch: Picnic areas available. Note: Groups wanting to picnic here need a permit. Call.
Handicapped Access: Accessible.
Directions: I-76 West to Exit 24. Follow signs. 30 - 60 minutes west of Philadelphia.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.