Winning independence from Great Britain established the United states of America. Many European countries wanted the new county to fail. However, in the late 18th and 19th centuries industrial development in this region helped guarantee that the new country would thrive and remain independent. The Powering Freedom Tour follows part of the Schuylkill River Trail. The Schuylkill River Heritage Center, located in the historic Foundry Building, adjacent to a portion of the Schuylkill River Trail in Phoenixville, showcases the industrial legacy of Phoenixville and the Schuylkill River. Interactive exhibits and videos tell the story of the industries that grew up all along the river because of the transportation routes provided by the Schuylkill Canal, and later, the expansion of the railroads throughout the region.

Recreation Opportunities

The Valley Forge National Historic Site is also listed in the Purple Tour. Visit the 175 acres of Mill Grove, John James Audubon's first American home, and Chester County's Black Rock Sanctuary, a wildlife habitat containing wetlands, woodlands and meadows. The Schuylkill River Trail is a multi-use trail and a great way to explore the natural areas of the Schuylkill River region. Kayaks and canoes can be launched at Lock 60.

Heritage Stops to Shop and Eat

One Heritage area on this tour is Mont Clare, which is located on the Schuylkill River and hosts Lock 60. Another stop includes the historic district of Phoenixville, an important manufacturing center and site of great iron and steel mill such as the Phoenix Iron Works. Visitors today can explore its rich assortment of private residences, restaurants, businesses and historic buildings. Spring City Main Street has always been the center of activity.

Powering Freedom Overview

Suggested Start: Visitor's Center and Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge National Historic Site

Allow: 4 hours to tour; 1 day to explore

Iron & Steel Sites: Schuylkill River Heritage Center at Phoenixville, Pottsgrove Manor and Colebrookdale Railroad

Heritage & Recreation: Valley Forge National Historical Park, Black Rock Sanctuary, Lock 60, Fricks Lock Village Trailhead, Schuylkill River Trail, Riverfront Park Trailhead, Spring-Ford Area Historical Society, and Towpath Park

Historic Villages to Shop & Eat: Phoenixville Historic District, Royersford, Spring City, and Historic Pottstown