Pennsylvania is full of history. As we celebrate July 4th, honor America’s past at one of these Pennsylvania attractions that help tell the story of our history.
With more than 10 sites countywide related to the Revolutionary War, Montgomery County is a history buff’s wonderland. This historic county bore witness to pivotal events in the British campaign to capture Philadelphia in 1777, ultimately leading to the Continental Army's famous winter encampment at Valley Forge. While navigating from place to place and timeframe to timeframe can be daunting, Patriot Trails offers a set of online itineraries that does the work for you. Journey back to a time of patriots and loyalists, citizens and soldiers, historic homes and battlefields, villages and hamlets as history comes alive around you.
In 1776, George Washington and his men secretly crossed the Delaware River on a freezing Christmas night, culminating in a surprise attack on the opposing troops in Trenton, the New Jersey. Washington Crossing Historic Park preserves the site of this Revolutionary War turning point, offering more than 500 acres of American history, natural beauty, and family fun. With this year marking the 100th anniversary of Washington Crossing Historic Park, it’s the perfect place for runners, picnickers, and more to revel in history.
The brand new Museum of the American Revolution boasts 118,000 square feet of art, manuscripts, and exhibits that showcase the history of the Revolutionary War and establish Philadelphia as the headquarters of the American Revolution. One of the most notable pieces in the museum’s collection is General George Washington’s Headquarters Tent, where the former president slept and made world-changing decisions. The galleries in the museum are organized in chronological order, so visitors can journey from the start of the American Revolution in the 1760s to the triumphant creation of the United States in 1776.
In 1777, the British were about to seize Philadelphia, and it was feared that the King's Army would destroy the great bell in Independence Hall. The bell was removed, taken to Allentown, and hidden for nearly a year in Zion's Reformed Church — present-day Zion's 'Liberty Bell' Church. Today, an impressive memorial stands where the Liberty Bell was kept safe, and visitors can even ring a replica bell to pay tribute to this iconic artifact.
As one of the oldest inland towns in America, Lancaster is brimming with history and charm. During the Revolutionary War, it was capital of the colonies for one day when the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia. The Red Rose City was also the site of the Treaty of 1744, home of the Conestoga wagon, and birthplace of the Pennsylvania long rifle. Incorporated in 1742, Lancaster continues to embody its storied past, while boasting a vibrant and eclectic downtown.
Fort Roberdeau, also known as The Lead Mine Fort, was built to protect the lead mining operations financed there by General Roberdeau. It was built in 1778, in the midst of the American Revolution, and was occupied until 1780. The site features the reconstructed fort, buildings, and smelter, a restored 19th-century farmhouse and barn, hiking trails, and costumed interpreters ready to take you on a journey back in time.
Rock Ford Plantation was the home of Revolutionary War General Edward, who served as Adjutant General to George Washington. Today, the circa-1794 mansion comprises 33 acres at the southeastern edge of Lancaster City, surrounded by Lancaster County Central Park. Rock Ford is widely considered to be one of the most important examples of Georgian-domestic architecture surviving in Pennsylvania, and the most intact building predating 1800 in Lancaster County.
York played an influential part in America’s history, hosting the Second Continental Congress in York for nine months during the winter of 1777-1778. Adopting the Articles of Confederation and signing a treaty with France, the Continental Congress accomplished much during its stay in York. A pivotal time during the American Revolutionary War, York served as the temporary home for John Adams and John Hancock, as well as a welcoming home to native Yorker James Smith. Guests can delve into the past at the York County History Center’s Library & Archives, which houses an extensive and varied collection covering both local and national history.
Check out some other historic sites in Pennsylvania that will continue to fascinate you. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state.