Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Fortifications at Fort Washington

My mother is helping my nonagenarian grandmother move into a smaller space, and she sent me a bunch of photos that Grandmom had saved. Among them was this photo of my grandfather at Fort Washington. Based on his age, I'm guessing this was probably taken in the late '30's or early '40's. It shows my Italian-American Grandpop with a full head of hair standing in front of a redoubt at Fort Washington, built by Washington in summer and fall of 1777 to protect his encampment at Whitemarsh.  He's standing on Camp Hill, looking southwest. The hill in the background is home to St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, which is as close as Howe's troops got to this part of the lines.  Behind my grandfather's head is Hope Lodge, an 18th century house that served as a hospital for Washington's troops. Grandpop worked for the Civil Conservation Corps in the 1930's,m and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he did some restoration work on this site as part of his service.  He seemed to know a ton of local history because of his experiences with the CCC.

The earthworks which you can see no longer exist.  They were bulldozed in the mid 1940's. The official story was that they were accidentally cleared to prepare for an Independence Day celebration. However, the following year, the owner of the land sold to the Pennsylvania Turnpike commission.  Thus, in the spot where Grandpop is standing, cars and trucks currently whiz by at 70 MPH.  Shots like this are all that remain of an important chapter in America's Revolutionary War.

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