A Little Time and a Keyboard: Wandering Through History at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania

Monday, August 9, 2021

Wandering Through History at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania

 Wandering Through History at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania

History and Nature Captivate and Washington Crossing Historic Park

Washington Crossing Historic Park represents a reminder to one of the most pivotal actions of American history. Perched on the striking Delaware River right where Washington crossed in 1776, you can really feel the moment. I have been visiting this spot since I was a child and it impresses every single time.

The Delaware River is strikingly beautiful.
The Delaware River is strikingly beautiful.

Inside the 500 acre park, you will find a cache of historic buildings. Several date to the time of the crossing and others were constructed during the earlier years of the nation. Additionally, the Visitor's Center provides detailed information about the crossing as well as the encampment.

Exhibits inside the Visitor's Center provide more inght into Revolutionary War history at Washington Crossing Historic Park.
Exhibits inside the Visitor's Center provide more insight into Revolutionary War history.

Artifacts within the Visitor's Center are entirely fascinating and worth exploring. Displays speak to all ages, so everyone will learn something about the Continental Army and the crossing. There also is a short film but we visited with a large family, so we opted just to check out the exhibits and wander the historic park.

McConkey's Ferry Inn features prominently in the history of Washington Crossing.
McConkey's Ferry Inn features prominently in the history of Washington Crossing.

Wandering the Historic Village:

One of the stars of the park in addition to the gorgeous Delaware River is McConkey's Ferry Inn which was one of many ferry sites of the Delaware River during the time of the crossing. McConkey's Ferry Inn and ferry launch was the site of the Continental Army Encampment. According to tradition, Washington and his aids ate in the inn before their historic crossing. The inn had additions added in the 18th and 19th century after Washington's visit. The basement kitchen is original to the tavern's first construction in 1752. The owner of the tavern at the time of Washington's Crossing was Samuel McConkey.

Replicas of the Durham boats Washington and his troops used.
Replicas of the Durham boats Washington and his troops used.

Nearby, we discovered the boats used each year to reenact the crossing. Washington used Durham boats for the crossing. At the time, Durham boats were used to move iron ore and other goods down the Delaware River. These boats are replicas and are used in the December 25 reenactment each year. Washington's bold plan of crossing the Delaware under the cover of night resulted in a successful victory over the Hessians. It is pretty incredible to think about 2,400 troops crossing the icy Delaware amidst a snow storm rising to victory.

The historic Frye House constructed in 1828.
The historic Frye House constructed in 1828.

Historic buildings throughout the park charm. Currently, many are undergoing renovations, so we look forward to returning when those are complete. Above is the lovely Frye House which was constructed in 1828 as a tenant house. The home housed a blacksmith. I have visited this park since I was a child and the early America architecture charms every time! 

Washington Crossing Historic Park has long remained one of my favorite historic sites. I love a spot where we can savor nature and history. The park maintains a spectacular serenity while carrying the  weight of such a critical historic moment.

Things Not To Miss:

  • Definitely pack a picnic. The site is STUNNING, so you will want to spend time there.
  • Stand where the mission was launched.
  • Visit the Thompson-Neely House which was a field hospital during the 1776/1777 winter campaign. A young James Monroe convalesced there.
  • Check out Bowman's Tower for a fantastic view if it is open (admission fees apply).
  • View other historic properties beyond the core.
  • Peruse the gift shop. 
  • Take a peek at the Washington Crossing Statue at the Washington Crossing Inn.

Wandering Through History at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania


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