Day 1: September 11, 2008
Bridge, Forge, Fire
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I was aware of this abandoned bridge when I passed by here in July but I still managed to miss it. On this trip, I stayed in a motel barely a mile away and got in a pair of visits. One was at the end of yesterday's work day and the other was at the start of today's drive. Lighting was less than ideal on both occasions and I've used pictures from both visits in this panel. The bridge over Poquessing Creek was built in 1805 as part of the Byberry & Bensalem Turnpike so it was way over a century old when it was widened in 1917 for the Lincoln Highway. It is now inside a Pennsylvania state park but it's hardly inviting. The bridge is crumbling and both it and the area around it are seriously overgrown. I watched a fellow head off down the faint path that was once the highway but had no thoughts of doing that myself. I ventured only as far as the old pavement was still visible.

I've passed by Valley Forge exits before but today I actually planned a stop before leaving the motel. The site of the 1777 encampment is now a national park. An informative museum is part of the Welcome Center as is a theater with a helpful film.

There are many sites commemorating past wars but Valley Forge National Park is different from most. Battlefields and cemeteries make up the bulk of war related sites but Valley Forge is neither of those. It is where the Continental Army hunkered down for a winter. Men died and are buried here but almost all died from disease not violence. The army that marched out of here in the spring was better trained -- and better supported by Congress -- than the one that marched in.

There are examples of the type of cabin the soldiers lived in but, since each group of twelve men built their own cabin, construction varied widely. Some men were fairly comfortable. Some, much less so. The mound is a reproduction of an oven. Purpose made iron plates were assembled into a box and earth heaped around it for insulation. There were many such ovens producing many many loaves of bread. The National Memorial Arch, dedicated in 1917, was in pretty bad shape when it was saved by the Freemasons of Pennsylvania in 1996. The man on the horse is General Anthony Wayne. He is gazing in the direction of his nearby home.

Washington definitely slept here. Not in this bed -- it's a reproduction -- and maybe not in this room -- there were nearly two dozen officers sharing his headquarters -- but this is the house where General George Washington spent every night of the Valley Forge encampment.

I ate breakfast at the Frazer Diner. The diner opens at 6:00 AM during the week and at 7:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday. It closes at 2:00 PM each day which is how I found it when I came by in July. Fun folks, lots of regulars, and good food, too. Glad I came back.

Chef's Diner is in Downington where The Blob ate the diner in 1957. This isn't the same diner (It was eaten. Remember?) but it is on the same spot. I only had an iced tea here but want to return a bit hungrier.

I stopped at Dunkel's in Bedford on Tuesday but, for what I believe to be only the second time, took no pictures. From that recent visit, I emembered which pump dispensed premium and confidently pulled up to it. Then I noticed it wasn't lit. Numbers glowed on the other pumps but not on that one. Then Justin told me about the fire. It sounded like a NASCAR pit incident. A driver pulled away with the hose from the regular pump still in place which jerked things over to the premium pump and a spark from the pump's electronics ignited the high-test. No one hurt and the only visible evidence is the soot on the pump and island. Whew!

The car prefers higher octane but will tolerate mid-range stuff. I pulled forward a few feet so Justin could fill 'er up then took a pot shot as I headed out of town.

I'm once again staying at the Lincoln Motor Court and once again it's raining. I'll try to make up for the lack of an interior view on my July visit by posting one here. Despite looking the same from the outside, each of the cabins is just a bit different inside. I was in #6 this time and it is a bit more romantic than my previous accommodations. Note the champagne flutes and the vines near the bed. Hope I didn't displace some late arriving honeymooners.

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