Monday, June 30, 2014

Anniversary Trip to Fort Necessity

Built Out of Necessity
When I hear most people talk about their anniversary, whether it be the first or fiftieth, they boast of  beaches, cabanas, posh hotels, shows, lavish dinners, and champagne - well, not here at Evil Bob's.  We dream of forts, castles, catacombs, museums, pub faire, and beers; confer about the colors we'd use to paint the terrain, what project we'll take on next, and if we'll purchase a book about our recent visit.  You see, Bob and I made the decision that our time-off for special occasions should be spent learning because that is what we enjoy doing.  Long we have dreamed of traveling to Europe to visit my relatives in Belgium and sightsee amongst the many fortifications and ruins - alas, we're pretty busy and time-off is few and far between.  However, this summer, and into the fall, we have promised ourselves that we WILL get away from the painting table and adventure for it is a necessity.
Laughingly enough a fifth anniversary is wood (or silverware, but I like to go with the old gifts) and quite frankly that is exactly what we got today.  Here honey, I got you a fort.

There it is, Fort Necessity, in all it's glory. is a lot smaller than I thought.  I'm used to Fort Ligonier.  I guess I never thought about the immediacy of the building of this fort and how it would affect the size.  Well, now I know.  But, you know, that makes seeing it all the more important.  
I'm 5'6" so that may give you an idea of the size of the fort.
In these two photos you get a glimpse of the earthworks that surround the fort.
No, these aren't my kiddos; I just don't mind when other people get into my photos, they were really enjoying themselves.

I thought that it was interesting that originally historians/archaeologists thought that the fort was rectangular/squarish and rather large, like Fort Ligonier.  Apparently the first fort reproduction, erected in 1932, was a rectangle; the stockade wall built upon what was actually the earthworks.  I can see how that happened.  It wasn't until the 50's that they discovered this was incorrect and changed it to its current appearance.

Bob is 6'0" roughly and the inner building isn't much bigger.



This looks up in the direction of the Washington Tavern

There are trails surrounding the fort but we didn't go on any of them, not this time.  I like the look of this as it leads into the coolness of the forest.

Turning around, looking back at the fort from a marker labeled "tree line".  They have surround the fort area with signs demonstrating where the tree line would have been in the 1700s.  It also appears in places that they may be trying to replace the trees, perhaps in order to make the battlefield more like it had been.

To the right of where we are standing and up a slope was a small, Native American encampment displaying trappings and all the accoutrements that may have been present with the Indians who assisted the French.

There is also a very nice visitor's center as you enter the park with a lovely permanent display with nice artifacts and information.  Sorry we didn't take many photos but we didn't want to be rude to other visitors. Today there were also numerous re-enactors, Native American demonstrations of dance and wampum belt making, as well as an artist, author, and wampum belt historian/artist.

Washington Tavern

Up the hill from the fort lies the Mount Washington Tavern.  You can see this beautiful brick building from the road as you approach the park, it looks closed but that is only because visitors are given open access and there are not guides present.

Selfie at the Washington Tavern...

Below are images of the inside of the Washington Tavern...

Descending from Washington Tavern...another look at the fort.

 Jumonville Glen

So then we set out in search of Jumonville Glen, where it all began.  It's not hard to find and on the way we stopped at Braddock's grave/memorial.  We didn't take any photos of the grave/memorial although it is neat because they have a placard for where he was originally interred underneath Braddock road.

 As you can see there isn't much to it...

The visitors' plaque states that this spot gives you an idea of how they were fighting in woodland terrain.  You know what?  They were right.  As a LARPer I'm familiar with (play) fighting in the woods so I get it, but I suppose the average person imagines that battles and skirmishes take place in open field.  This is quite the opposite.

You can just start to see the overlook and outcropping of rock as you descend.

From below it is much more impressive.


I look at this and I can't help imagining Washington's men looking over the edge at the French camped beneath.  You aren't allowed to walk along the upper edge of the cliff, trust me I would have if I had been permitted.

 It was wonderfully quiet and peaceful, and although a small walk, I greatly enjoyed coming upon some wildlife; a doe and her fawn.  They were so tame that even as we moved up the slope they stirred but little.

Yeah, yeah, you'd think we'd never seen a deer before.  Sheez, we live in Western PA so of course we see deer.  Now, what to paint or build?  Me thinks there might be a fort in the near future.  :-)
Oh, and I'll warn you there isn't a ton of stuff to look at so don't be a grump when you get there.  Personally I enjoyed it because the whole 'looking at stuff on your own' can be accomplished in about 2 hours (minus hiking).  I think if you followed one of the re-enactor tour guides and listened as he talked, watched all the little demos, listened to the offered guest lecture, toured the visitor center, and hiked you could really make a day of it, and that would only be the fort, not Braddock's grave or Jumonville Glen. 
What I appreciated was the fact that there were a lot of kids there and it seemed like a very kid friendly place.  At the Indian encampment up the hill from the fort they were trying to encourage the children (even the adults) to touch the artifacts and ask questions; people were very reluctant.  I don't think that people are used to being asked to touch at a museum and in this world where we keep kids so close it seemed foreign to them.  Odd really.  So if you have children I wouldn't hesitate to make this trip and bring them along.

There you have it.  I think you should go to Fort Necessity; I feel like an idiot that I've lived here for 36 years and finally got to go.  Today was rather warm so we will probably go back in the Fall to hike the trails.  It costs $5.00 per person and that gives you a 7 day pass which would be good if there are events going on that will occur over the course of a couple days and you'd like to spend some time hiking.  Check out their website for more details.
Happy Painting,