Fort Necessity is truly a visit to the past. That’s true of our national battlefields, historical sites and even the national parks. It is only one of several signifcant places to visit in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania that we visited over a day and a half.
Our trip was to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area the next morning at 8, so we drove down earlier to spent the night rather than get up really early the next morning. After reading about the area, we picked Fort Necessity National Battlefield to visit. The next morning we were meeting our cousins, Don and Rosemary. She is a fellow blogger at My Home and Travels.
All national battlefields have visitor centers with a short well made video presentation about the events and spot you are about the visit. Don’t miss it! Often there are also exhibits and also excellent book and gift shops!
Some offer ranger or tape tours too that can make your visit better. Jim is a keen student of American military history so we don’t use the guided tours. We sure do at other places though! Having a knowledgable guide at these spots really enhances the experience.
Do you think a battlefield may be too stuffy for your younger kids?
There was a small playground for kid and a fun photo spot. The Conestoga wagon was the workhorse of settlers as they moved to the interior in search of land and a fresh start. It’s Lancaster PA contribution
The reconstructed fort is a short walk from the Visitor Center. You get a feel for the size of the Great Meadow and just how small the fort is. It is surrouned by woods.
Just what makes this fort important? There was a brewing fight over who would win the claim to the land, the French or the British. The year was 1754; the year the French and Indian War started.
For visitors, even young ones, there is lots of room to run around and imagine which can be very much a part of learning.
What person wouldn’t love to run and explore this reconstructed Fort Necessity built by Lieutenant Colonel George Washington. Yes, that one! He was 22 and in command of his Bristish and colonial militia troop of several hundred with some Indian allies.
“In the spring of 1754, a 22-year old British lieutenant colonel (George Washington) led a group of 300 colonials and 100 British regulars on a mission deep into the Pennsylvania frontier. Following an old Indian trail, his goal was to both expand the road to improve future troop movements and to build a port at the Forks of the Ohio, an area known today as Point Park in downtown Pittsburgh.” From Uncovering PA.
This was supposed to be just a stop along the treck for a supply depot, a supply spot for those who would follow. The ultimate goal was to establish claim over aa large area to deter the French from claiming it.
Forts are built in strategic places as a base for soldiers and supplies. Fort Necessity is no exception. Little did he know what significance this location would be!
This is a ‘firehole’ in the fort’s wall for the soldiers to kept watch and to fire their muskets from. They would be needed sooner that was anticipated. A peep hole for today’s visitors to imagine what is beyond in the woodline.
Over the years our family during visits to national historical sites have learned so much outside the classroom! Just like I did on this visit.
After a march of many miles through wilderness Washington stopped at this large meadow. The men started building the fort. They chopped down, trimmed and cut the trunks to line up for the fort’s circular exterior. I was surprised at how tiny Fort Necessity was! This photo of Jim who is 6′ 2″ shows the scale of the height. Men this tall were not common except, of course, Washington.
This was this spot that started the French and Indian War for control over what is now the United States but then was wilderness with a few natural meadows with streams and rivers. If I was in a classroom we might begin to discuss the importance of controlling the water ways and cutting pathways for settlers and travelers.
This small low shed was for supplies and most likely for Washington and fellow officers to sleep in but being July, maybe under the stars was better. It’s not much larger than many backyard sheds.
Turns out the French were in the woods. After an encounter with them in the woods, trenches had to be dug for defense as an attack was coming from the stronger French troop. Then it rained and rained and rained. Miserable!
.After seeing the visitor center presentation, it is easy to imagine those dreadful days and night ahead before negotiations resulted in Washington’s first and only defeat on the 4th of July, 1754
This was also the beginning of what would come the National Highway by the early 1800’s cutting through this area. Enterprising buisnessmen and women built taverns for travelers along the way. The Mount Washington Tavern is one stop that is now a furnished museum. Unfortunately, it was closed the day we were there. It’s a short drive from the fort, still part of the national battlefield.
So why is this spot important to mark? It was where the first shots of the world war called the French and Indian War also known as the Seven Year War. It is the spot of Washington’s defeat. In a quirk of the calendar, twenty two years later on the day he and his troops march away in defeat from Fort Necessity, the Declaration of Independence was signed.
As I mentioned earlier, we stayed at the new Hilton Garden Inn, Uniontown, PA which was an excellent choice. The warm fire in the lobby took away the late afternoon chill. The staff was very friendly; the rooms spacious and clean. Breakfast (not included) options available were continental and hot choices from the menu with service from their resturant. Dinner is also available. There’s also lobby coffee bar with hot drinks available all day with a few packaged options for grab and go.
Then next morning we started out to visit Frank Lloyd Wright homes including one of the jewels of his work. Falling Water.
Helpful links for more about Fort Necessity