Here’s a look at some of my Spring travels through Montgomery County.
Western Adams County, along the slopes of South Mountain, hosts a large number of orchards. I was on my way to Gettysburg from Pine Grove Furnace and happened on this area by chance. It was a nice surprise.
I had to visit the Historic Round Barn and Farm Market in Biglerville, PA. The family-owned market has fresh fruits and vegetables, jams, jellies, honey, canned fruits and vegetables, snacks, candy, and gift items. It is well worth a visit if you are near Gettysburg.
Memorial Day brought me to Gettysburg National Military Park on my way home from the Cumberland Valley. I had been here a few times when I was young, but it’s been a while since I was there. In additional to being educational and preserving this country’s history, the park is a lovely place for a walk or bike ride. As I am not an expert on military history, I will share some of the views and monuments that I particularly liked, with particular emphasis on farms.
This Memorial Day weekend, I traveled to the Cumberland Valley and Michaux State Forest. The Carlisle area is home the U.S. Army War College and the Army Heritage and Educational Center. I was not able to visit the exhibits at the Heritage Center due to it being closed because of “the situation,” but was able to visit some of the outside exhibits. More about the Heritage Center can be found here.
The Heritage Center also hosts the Army Heritage Trail, which serves as an outdoor museum. It covers about one mile and highlights nearly every era of Army history with different exhibits and large artifacts. The Trail also serves as a stage for living history presentations by historians serving as interpreters.
Fourteen individual exhibits include full scale reconstructions of a French and Indian War way station, Redoubt Number 10 from the Revolutionary War siege of Yorktown, a section of the Antietam battlefield, a Civil War winter encampment with cabins, a WWI trench system, a WWII company area, a replicated Normandy Bocage scene from World War II, a Current Operations HESCO Bastion barrier checkpoint, and an interpretation of the Vietnam helicopter air assault at Ia Drang that includes a period Fire Support Base. Additionally, there are numerous smaller exhibits featuring armor, aircraft, and artillery from several different eras of U.S. Army history.
The Pawling Farm is part of Valley Forge National Historical Park and sits on the Perkiomen Peninsula, which is created by a bend in the Schuylkill River near its confluence with the Perkiomen Creek. This area played a critical role in the winter encampment of George Washington’s troops in 1777-78. It was a strategically important avenue of approach from the north to the encampment on the south side of the river and also served as the site of a commissary function that saved the troops from starvation. The National Park Service brochure on the area can be found here.
Currently the property’s main buildings include an old barn, a small home (which currently appears to be in use), a privy building, and the remains of the old mansion. The mansion was lost to fire in 1967 and is now a ruin. There are hiking trails which connect to the rest of the Valley Forge system and a mix of habitats including meadow, forest, wetlands, and vernal ponds.
Here are some overview shots and other views of the farm.
The Stoneleigh Natural Garden in Montgomery County is a recent addition to the the Natural Lands Trust. The mansion house on the property hosted a Christmas open house on a recent weekend. Although the property is open all but Mondays, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, the house is open only for special events. This property has been used as a residence since 1877, with the current house dating to the turn of the twentieth century. The history of the property can be found here.
After entering the house you soon come to the grand staircase
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and will focus on the exterior and grounds in upcoming posts.
I recently took advantage of the guided tours offered to visit historic Sugartown, a preserved 19th century community located in Chester County. Sugartown is an historic crossroads community dating to 1800. It features several interesting structures such as a general store, barn, book bindery, carriage museum and period homes. The website for Historic Sugartown can be found here.
Tours run from May to November on Saturday and Sunday, and there is a fee. You are welcome to browse the grounds for free. The fee is well worth it to see the interior of the general store, the carriage museum and many vintage tools inside the barn.
I’ve included some interior photographs here that are not great but give one a sense of what these historic properties look like. The interior lighting was very dark, and I was shooting handheld without much time to adjust exposure.
The tour begins with arrival to the rear of the Sharpless Worrall house, a mid 19th century home.
Currently attached to the Sharpless Worrall House is the General Store. The store building was first constructed in c. 1805 by Joseph Waterman when he built his home and Saddle Shop next door. This building also served as a post office for area in the early 1800s.
We then proceeded outside to check out the Carriage Museum. This building was once in ruins, but was it was built on by the Malvern Fire Company to create a satellite station before becoming a museum. Collection highlights include a c. 1800 Conestoga wagon used to haul freight from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and a hearse used by undertaker George L. Moore of Guthriesville in the 1870s.
Tucked into the back of the Carriage Museum is a really cool dollhouse.
Across the street are several more buildings. First up is a Book Bindery, where you can sign up to take classes in the craft. The building was built in 2001 to house a world-class collection of bookbinding tools and equipment once owned by the late master bookbinder Fred Shihadeh. Today, local bookbinder, Ramon Townsend, of ColonialBindery.com, teaches a variety of workshops in the Book Bindery.
The William Garrett House was constructed on 1805 and relocated to its current position in 2001 to save it from demolition. It is an excellent example of a modified “Quaker Plan” or three-room plan so often used in homes among the Quaker community.
Nearby is the Bank Barn. Typical for Chester County, this 19th century Pennsylvania barn was constructed so that hay wagons could enter the upper level from a bank. Today, the barn preserves a rich agricultural heritage through an agricultural tool exhibit on its upper floor.
The site also features the Hannah Cheever House, dating from 1835. This property was bought and restored by Historic Sugartown to save it and the surrounding property from development.
Historic Sugartown is well worth the visit and is especially lovely in the Spring and Fall.