October 2:  King of  Prussia to Denver

Valley Forge is only a few miles down the road from our hotel, so it was definitely the first place on our list of sights for the day.  Valley Forge was the winter home of George Washington during the Revolutionary War.  Today it is a beautiful park full of deer, old log cabins and the original home that Washington stayed in during his time that winter.  A bike trail circumnavigates around the park pass many of the markers and sights.  The sun was shining, the air a little cool, and the park almost empty, so pedaling up and down the trail through all this history was a pleasure.

After leaving the park and returning to the roadway we headed out into the countryside along a combination of old country rustic roads.  Many of the farmhouses were old field stone, but unlike their sisters of the north.  Here the stone has been flatten on the exterior wall to lay flush with each one around it.  The grouting holding the stone in place is white and in direct contrast to the stones, thus making for a wonderful pattern of color. Some of the farms were large horse farms complete with jumping arenas and pastures.  Others were agricultural in nature with the corn plants already that shade of tan after the last bit of life has left for the season.  

Rounding the bend at one point brought us to the former community of Hopewell Furnace.  In 1771 Mark Bird built the community as a iron industry.  The primarily product of these ironmasters was cast and wrought iron products.  Typical of the time England became worried that these colonists would outdo what was being produced in England and tried to stop it.  The colonists were now making the pig iron (cast bars) and rather than sending them to England to be made into useable products, they were making them here.  England passed a law to prohibit this and we defied it.  Sounds a little like the Boston Tea Party!

In any case, Pennsylvania was a tremendous source of raw materials, water power, and religious tolerance so ironmasters from other colonies and from all over Europe began to settle in this area.  The Revolutionary War brought the need for iron cannon balls and shot so the little town of Hopewell Furnace grew in prosperity.

Unfortunately, like most "fads" the need for iron cannon balls and shot died as the war ended and the transformation to other products did not produce the income to maintain such a level of life.  The operation slowly slipped into bankruptcy and the town dwindled into obscurity.  Today it is a "restored tourist site" that gives a glimpse of times past.

The terrain now is rolling hills and twisting roads that pass through forests raining oak leaves as the wind blows (from the west and we are traveling westerly -- head wind!).  The sound of the leaves crunching under the tires is a true sound of fall.  Also appearing so subtly is the families of Mennonites.  This religious sect is an off shoot of the Amish, a strict organization that does not believe in modern technology.  The Mennonites allow themselves to use modern devises, such as cars, tractors, electricity, running water, etc. but believe that they should only dress in simple and plain clothing.  Thus the women are in "house dress" style outfits and the men in wide brim black hats and simple shirt and pants.  Interesting, however, as we were struggling to ride up a rather long and steep hill doing our usual pedal and pant, two young Mennonite girls pedaled by us on "one speeds" and showed no sign of rapid heart beat or sweat.  Must be that it was because they were so much younger than we were!!

The towns of Pughtown, Knauertown, St Peters, Geigertown, Plowville, and Bowmansville all reflected the "oldness" of the area.  Homes two hundred years old overlooked large expansions of farm fields and valleys.  We are in Lancaster County now, long known for its history and religious freedom settlements.  The Mennonites and the Amish live here along with the Pennsylvania Dutch.  Each one arrived in this country to escape persecution in their homelands.  Today they live in harmony with many different ethnic and religious backgrounds. 

Down a final hill and into the town of Denver in the heart of Lancaster County we sailed to find our hotel on the left up a slight imbankment.  Tonight is our last night in Pennslyvania.  Tomorrow we head out toward Maryland -- an other state on our list of those to Florida.

Deer in Valley Forge

More Deer!

There are a Lot!

Frankie and Nancy:  "Where are We?"

Frankie, Nancy, Sue, and Jan Trying to Make Sure They Remember What They Read!

Frankie on The Way to George's House

George Washington's Winter Home at Valley Forge

George Washington Chapel at Valley Forge

Jan being Cannonized at Valley Forge

Coke Break

Nancy, Sue and Jan

Jan, Peg, Nancy and Sue Ready to Ride!

Nancy on the Road Again1

Baron Von Steuben!

Nancy, Jan, Frankie at Rest

Peg at Rest!!!!!

Lancaster Countryside!