Valley Forge National Historical Park | NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARCH

South-facing view of the National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge

South-facing view of the National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge

VALLEY FORGE ENCAMPMENT TOUR STOP 3

National Memorial Arch

The third stop on the Valley Forge Encampment Tour is the National Memorial Arch. Its creation was authorized by the U. S. Congress in 1910 to commemorate the Continental Army’s 1777-78 Valley Forge winter encampment. Construction began in 1914 and continued through early 1917. It was formally dedicated on June 19, 1917.

North-facing view of the National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge

North-facing view of the National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge

By the 1990s, the National Memorial Arch was in disrepair. It was renovated by the Freemasons of Pennsylvania between 1996 and 1997 (George Washington himself was a Freemason). In addition to raising the money needed for the repair work, the Freemasons of Pennsylvania erected a small memorial honoring Washington and other Freemasons who joined the Continental Army and camped at Valley Forge.

Pennsylvania Freemason Memorial at Valley Forge

Pennsylvania Freemason Memorial at Valley Forge

Pennsylvania Freemason Memorial at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Pennsylvania Freemason Memorial at Valley Forge National Historical Park

There are two other monuments at the National Memorial Arch tour stop. One is a standard monument that you’ll see throughout Valley Forge National Historical Park that marks the campsite location of a particular Continental Army brigade. This one is dedicated to Brigadier General John Glover and his men from Massachusetts, for the area near the arch is where they were stationed.

Monument dedicated to General John Glover's brigade at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Monument dedicated to General John Glover’s brigade at Valley Forge

The other monument is much more elaborate. It is dedicated to all Massachusetts soldiers who were at Valley Forge.

Massachusetts Soldiers Memorial at Valley Forge National Historical Park

When approaching the National Memorial Arch, be aware that the park road winds around the arch and that the parking lot is on the far side. I mention this because when you first see the arch you’ll also see a driveway, but this does not lead to the parking lot. Instead, it leads right up to the arch so that you can drop off passengers—no parking is allowed. From the official parking lot, visitors must walk up a hill, so if you are in a wheelchair or have trouble walking, be sure to get dropped off at the arch. If you are hiking or biking on the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, you will pass right by the arch.

Plan to spend no more than 15 minutes at the National Memorial Arch.

When you travel along Outer Line Drive towards the next stop on the Valley Forge Encampment Tour—the Wayne Statue—you will pass two 30-foot tall granite columns that flank each side of the road. Known as the Pennsylvania Columns, these were erected between 1909 and 1912 by the state of Pennsylvania to honor the Pennsylvanian soldiers who were at Valley Forge. The sculptor is Henry Bush Brown, the same man who created the Wayne Statue. At the bottoms of both sides of the columns are the busts of two Continental Army officers from Pennsylvania: Colonel William Irvine, General Joseph Reed, General Arthur St. Clair, General John Calwalader, General John Armstrong, General Peter Muhlenberg, Colonel Josiah Harman, and General Thomas Mifflin.

Pennsylvania Columns at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Pennsylvania Columns at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Busts of Josiah Harmar and Thomas Mifflin on the Pennsylvania Columns at Valley Forge

Busts of Josiah Harmar and Thomas Mifflin on the Pennsylvania Columns at Valley Forge


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Last updated on August 3, 2022
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