We park our bikes and head towards the encampment structures. We see people dressed as the Continental Army soldiers and civilians in period clothes. These people are all volunteers who re-enact the time the Continental Army spent encamped at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777–1778.
We start chatting with one of the officers and he informs us there will be live fire re-enactment in the next half hour. We decide to stay to see the live firing, no real rounds were fired though, just the powder. I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to see the shiny bronze canons thundering in the valley. We watch the preparations which were lengthy with anticipation for the live firing.
|The little one|
|Loading the big canon|
|The big one|
|The smaller one|
|The little mortar|
We meander through the encampment observing various utensil used by the doctors and the medicine boxes, I can hardly imagine the pain the poor injured soldiers must have endured after being shot in the field, the medicine not being what it is today, and where the rate of survival was pretty slim.
We wait for the drill before the live firing and then cover our ears as instructed by the officer just before the firing order is given. It was a loud bang, so loud that your ears were left ringing. I was filming with my camera, the following photos were taken by my brother Paul.
My brother was kind enough to let me use some of his photos.
We left the encampment and toured the park on the bikes, the winding road meandering through the 3,500 acres of the park. We made our next stop at the top of the hill by the National Memorial Arch, dedicated "to the officers and private soldiers of the Continental Army December 19, 1777 - June 19, 1778"
It was getting late and we had a long way to go. We leave the park and head north on route 422, aka Benjamin Franklin Highway. 25 miles later we take the exit for route 662, aka Old Swede Road. I had read on a magazine the road was one of various scenic roads in this part of Pennsylvania. We continue north until we come upon Hermy's Tire and Cycle, a BMW and Triumph dealer in Port Clinton. They are having an open house, we pull in knowing there was free food and by now our stomachs were rumbling.
After a "pulled chicken sandwich", if you can call it that, they had ran out of "pulled pork", and some beans we were ready to hit the road again. We continued north for another 30 miles, now on PA-61, and as we round a turn I see a few motorcycles to my left in front of a restaurant. I quickly recognize a few heads, specially with my friend Roger waving at me as we pass since he had also recognized my "Goldie". We quickly turn around and meet the group from CJMRG. What are the odds that we are near Centralia at the same time on the same road after traveling over 160 miles to get there. After a little chat we all leave and head to Centralia down the road. The current route 61 bypasses the destroyed "Pennsylvania 54" which is now closed. We park our bikes at the beginning of the bypass and walk the rest of the way to the destroyed part of the road, except for my friend Mike which decides to go over the sand barrier with his Honda Valkyrie and ride all the way. Only Mike would attempt such a crazy thing and with such an heavy bike. You can see him riding down the old road while the rest of us are walking.
Centralia is a ghost town as a result of a mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962. All properties in the borough were claimed under eminent domain by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1992 and all buildings therein were condemned. There is not much to see.
|Steam or smoke coming out of the ground|
I climb a hill to investigate the surroundings but there are no houses in the area, they have all been removed. I wait for everyone to go back to the bikes and then take a few more pictures. I had to get a shot of myself inside one of the cracks just for scale.
The kids have had fun with the road over the years covering it in graffiti, most of it not safe for my blog but here's one I thought was cute.
As you can see by the photos, the weather had turned bad and by the time we got back to the bikes it was raining. My brother and I leave the group and head to the next town to find a place to have coffee and run away from the rain. We wait for them but they don't show up, we figured they must have taken another way home. After about 30 minutes we get back on the bikes and head home. An hour later we see a Wawa gas station and pull in for another cup of coffee since it hadn't stopped raining. We enter the station and come upon half the CJMRG group on the way home, they had split up with my friend Roger leading this group. Again, what a coincidence, small world indeed. We all leave together with my brother leaving us about 30 minutes later and heading south towards Philadelphia while I continued east with the group into NJ. We had rain for part of the way home but as I got near my town the rain had stopped. I made one more stop when I saw what appeared moss on the side of the road but I don't think it is. The area is weird with gigantic weeds spread all over, it looks like another world.
I covered over 330 miles, it was a long day riding to go see a non existent town but we got to see Revolution era canons firing in Valley Forge and had a free lunch courtesy of Hermy's BMW.