Region Rich in Colonial & Civil War History

By Hanson, Shannon | VFW Magazine, August 2005 | Go to article overview
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Region Rich in Colonial & Civil War History

Hanson, Shannon, VFW Magazine

Trip 12

Pennsylvania and West Virginia

Located at the heart of much of America's early war experiences, these two states offer a rare look at what life was like for our first soldiers fighting on the East's original frontier.

Pennsylvania and West Virginia formed battlegrounds for the clashing armies of France and Britain, as well as Indians and the Union and Confederacy. Memorials touch on more modern conflicts.

So whether your travel tastes lean to the colonial, Civil War action or later time periods, you are sure to find them satisfied here. Immerse yourself in the abundant martial heritage, and you will be richly rewarded.

Editor's Note: Be sure to let us know if we missed any of your favorite sites.


State Museum of Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, (717) 787-4980.

Civil War gallery covers state's military and home-front contributions to the war effort. Includes 16x32-ft. painting of Pickett's Charge.

Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum, Annville, (717) 861-2402.

Housed in 1941 barracks. Displays cover Civil War through Persian Gulf War, soldier life in the barracks, and history of state National Guard and Fort Indiantown Gap.

Pennsylvania Military Museum*

Boalsburg, (814) 466-6263.

Honors Pennsylvania-based units and Pennsylvanians who served in all branches of service in the 20th century. Under renovation. Interim exhibit includes vehicle and arms collections, and personal stories of those who served in the war and on the home front. Armored vehicles on outdoor display, plus shrine to 28th. Infantry Division and memorials.

Elsenhower National Historic Site

Gettysburg, (717) 338-9114.

Home and farm of famed general and President Dwight Elsenhower includes displays and programs on his military career. Accessible through Gettysburg National Military Park.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Uniontown, (724) 329-5512.

Site of first battle of French & Indian War, July 3, 1754. Main park unit includes battlefield, reconstructed stockade, Mount Washington Tavern and visitor center. Braddock Grave unit has outdoor exhibits and monument to Gen. Edward Braddock. lumonville Glen unit has interpretive signs on earlier skirmish.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg, (717) 334-1124, ext. 431.

Site of largest and bloodiest battle of the Civil War, July 1863. Visitor center with vast Civil War museum and electric map. Adjacent Cyclorama Center. 18-mile self-guided auto tour with 16 stops; more than 1,400 monuments, markers and memorials; national cemetery.

Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, (215) 965-2305.

Some 20 buildings associated with colonial period include New Hall Military Museum, which commemorates the history of the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps from 1775-1805. Features dioramas, weapons cases and scale model of the U.S. brig Raleigh.

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge, (610) 783-1077.

Site of George Washington and the Continental Army's 6-month encampment, December 1777-June 1778. Visitor center includes exhibits, artifacts and 18-minute film. 10-mile self-guided tour visits reconstructed soldier huts, Washington's Headquarters, National Memorial Arch and original entrenchment lines and fortifications.

Washington Memorial Chapel contains artifacts and Veterans Wall of Honor. Valley Forge Historical Society Museum displays artifacts of Valley Forge and Revolutionary War. New American Revolution Center will open in 2006 with 110,000 square feet of exhibits.

Point State Park

Pittsburgh, (412) 471-0235.

Includes 1764 Fort Pitt Blockhouse (471-1764)-attacked by Indians during Pontiac's Rebellion (1763). Park also includes Fort Pitt Museum* (281-9284), located in reconstructed bastion with exhibits, artifacts, dioramas, audiovisual presentations and computer simulations depicting French & Indian War, Pontiac's Rebellion and Ohio Indian wars.

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