Suggested Start: Historic Yellow Springs
Allow: 4 hours to tour; 1 day to explore
Heritage & Recreation: The Woolen Mill of Charlestown, Mill at Anselma, Continental Powder Works and Rapps Dam Covered Bridge, Historic Sugartown, Historic Yellow Springs, Birchrunville, Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge, and French Creek Trail
Historic Villages to Shop & Eat: Ludwigs Corner, Kimberton Village and Paoli Battlefield Historic Park
This area of Chester County supplied the fight for freedom with iron products, food, medicines, and textiles. Washington's army at Valley Forge would not have survived the winter of 1777-1778 without support from the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, the area also supplied freedom with the sacrifice of soldiers and the looting of civilian property during the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777. The Supplying Freedom Tour begins at Historic Yellow Springs where Washington set up headquarters after the Battle of the Clouds and the first military hospital in the United States was built. It continues to explore this theme with visits to the Paoli Battlefield and three mills which provided gun powder, flour and cloth.
Valley Forge National Historic Site encompasses 3,500 acres. Programs, tours, and activities are available year round. The park also provides 26 miles of hiking and biking trails, which are connected to a robust regional trails system. Wildlife watching, fishing, and boating on the nearby Schuylkill River also are popular. Pine Creek Park features a 1/3 mile dirt track, trails and a fishing pond with a playground and soccer goals. Horseshoe Trail Road is a road section of the Horse-Shoe Trail, a 140-mile hiking and equestrian trail that runs from Valley Forge to the Appalachian Trail in southeastern Pennsylvania
Heritage Stops to Shop and Eat
Heritage stops include Ludwig's Corner, an important commercial area on the main route between Philadelphia and Lancaster. The tour also includes the beautiful Kimberton Historic District, which includes 62 buildings and 18th and 19th century roadways that helped to make the village a local transportation and commercial center. Sheeder-Hall and Rapps Dam bridges are two of Chester County's oldest surviving covered bridges.
(1) Historic Yellow Springs
Grounds open daily from dusk until dawn
Guided tours available (call ahead)
$2 suggested donation
1685 Art School Road, Chester Springs, PA 19425
Now a peaceful artists' colony, Historic Yellow Springs once housed the first military hospital in North America. George Washington established the facility after the fall campaign of 1777, and visited the site personally on several occasions. Later, Yellow Springs provided a home for Civil War orphans. Visit the permanent exhibition: The Lure of the Springs and take a self guided tour (maps available in the lobby of the Lincoln Building, special children's tour pn the grounds.)
(2) Mill at Anselma
Sat 10-4, Sun 1-4 (from April 9-Dec 19)
$5 Adults, $4 Seniors (60+), $3 Children (4-17),
Admission for Members, Veterans and children under 4 are free
Monthly demonstration of the mill.
1730 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, PA 19425
Ironmasters, iron workers, teamsters, and merchants all wanted to put food on the table for their families. The Mill at Anselma helped fill that need by first grinding grain for human consumption and later adding animal food to their output.
A guided tour is included in the admission price. Milling demonstrations are offered on a monthly basis, and offer family-friendly, hands-on activities. Farmers and artesan market open weekly 2 - 6, May - Oct.
(3) Ludwig's Corner
2904 Conestoga Road, Glenmoore, PA
www.livingplaces.com (search: West Vincent)
In the colonial era this route was known as the Conestoga Turnpike, and was a main path of travel between Philadelphia and western towns such as Lancaster. Many of the wagons were of a flat but arched design that would float when forging creeks and rivers with high water. These wagons became known as Conestoga wagons and were popular with local ironmasters.
1403 Hollow Road, Birchrunville, PA
www.livingplaces.com (search: Birchrunville)
Remains of a mill still stand in Birchrunville on Powder Mill Hill.
(5) Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge
Heritage Stop at the intersection of Sheeder and Birch Run Roads, Chester Springs, PA 19425
Built in 1850, Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge is the oldest standing covered bridge in Chester County. This 120 foot long bridge crosses the French Creek and was a crucial component of transportation in the 19th century. It allowed people and goods to be transported over the French Creek, which was so essential to the operation of the region's iron furnaces. The Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
(6) Kimberton Village
2105 Kimberton Road, Kimberton, PA
www.livingplaces.com (search: Kimberton)
The Kimberton Historic District includes sixty-two buildings along with 18th and 19th century roadways that helped make the village a local education, market, and transportation center.
(7) Continental Powder Works and Rapps Dam Covered Bridge
1158 Rapps Dam Road, Phoenixville, PA 19460
Ironmasters needed the water from French Creek to operate their furnaces,
but for travelers the Creek posed an obstacle. Bridges like Rapp's Dam Covered Bridge, which is still in use today, helped them to cross these important waterways. With its ornate white portals and weathered cedar sides, Rapps Bridge is one of the prettiest and most interesting of the Chester County Bridges. The 105 foot long bridge was built in 1866 and is named for George Rapp, who operated the nearby mill, known as Snyder's Mill. The mill was the Revolutionary Powder Works in 1775, but was operated by Snyder as a linseed oil mill after 1840. It supplied much of the gunpowder used to fire the cannon made by the region's iron furnaces. The ruins of the mill are notable as the last stone remnant of one of the gunpowder mills built for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and they and the bridge are picturesque destinations for visitors today.
(8) The Woolen Mill of Charlestown
2405 Charlestown Road, Malvern, PA
Farmers and ironmasters of Chester County had to dress themselves, their families and in some cases, their employees. The Woolen Mill of Charlestown Village provided high quality material. Constructed circa 1740 with upgrades circa 1840 and 1902, the old Woolen Mill adjacent to Charlestown Road in Charlestown Village has been a landmark for many years. At present, Charlestown Township is planning to restore the mill to working order.
(9) Historic Sugartown
90 Sugartown Road, Malvern, PA
(10) Paoli Battlefield Historical Park
Heritage Stop at the intersection of Monumental and Wayne Avenues, Malvern