A field trip to Fort Necessity

When Evil Twin was here in September, we discussed the possibility of taking a little trip to Fort Necessity.  Rebecca was very interested because she is learning about it and the French and Indian War in history class.  Zoee really wanted to go because she is fascinated with George Washington and thinks he’s “pretty neat”.  After a bit of planning, Rebecca and I headed out one morning to meet up with Zoee and Evil Twin.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield is in southwestern Pennsylvania, along route 40, not too far from the Maryland border.  The battle fought at Fort Necessity was one of several skirmishes/battles that started the French and Indian war and where a young George Washington got the experience that eventually turned him into a great leader during the Revolutionary War, and later on, the first President of the United States.

We arrived just after lunch time, the weather was perfect.  The visitor center is relatively new, rebuilt in 2005 and has several interesting displays, a bookstore/gift shop and a theater which shows a short presentation explaining how the fort came in to being as well as other information about the battles that took place in the area.  Of course, the girls discovered the kids area…

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The girls thought this play area that looked like a Conestoga wagon was pretty cool.  (don’t you just love Zoee’s hat?!)

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Then they had to pretend they were other people!

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The walk from the visitor center to the fort is fairly long, but it’s paved, so it’s not too bad.  Rebecca and Zoee wanted their picture taken while they were walking out to the fort.

Finally!!

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It’s not very big, it’s hard to imagine very many soldiers staying here.  It was named Fort Necessity because it was built in a hurry because of advancing French troops.

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Unfortunately the door for the small building in the center of the fort was locked, but we told the girls that there isn’t much in it, usually just a desk and a chair.  Sometimes someone will be dressed in uniform to answer questions, but because it was so late in the year, no one was there.

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Uh, girls, I don’t think you are supposed to be sitting up there!!!

After walking around and checking out the fort, we headed back towards the visitors center.  We decided to watch the movie that tells about how the fort came to be and other information about the surrounding area.

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The girls waiting for the movie to start…

One of the things mentioned in the movie was the development of the National Road, now known as Route 40. The National Road was the first major highway built by the US Government and was considered to be a gateway to expansion and trade in the West. To continue funding repairs and maintenance, buildings called “toll houses” were put up so that money could be collected from those that used the road.  The girls thought that it was interesting and when we told them that an old toll house still existed along route 40, they wanted to see it. Off we went!

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Searight’s Toll House is one of only 3 remaining toll houses along the National Road. Unlike toll booths we are used to seeing now, it was a single structure and usually the toll taker lived there as well. This one is very well preserved and was turned into a historic landmark in 1964.
fort 11  fort 10

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Unfortunately the building was closed the day we were there, but the girls still wanted to get several pictures with it.

We headed back towards Evil Twin’s house after that, but not before we stopped at Dairy Queen!  We hung out with her for a while and after dinner, headed back towards home.

Rebecca wanted to be sure to show you the cool pin she picked up at Fort Necessity, it looks like a tri-corn hat!

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If you are interested in learning more about Fort Necessity, you can check out the National Park’s website here.  There is plenty of good literature and information available about it and the French and Indian War.  One of my favorites is the film “The War That Made America”.  It can be purchased through Amazon  or the PBS website store.  It not only documents the events in Western Pennsylvania, but also those that happened in the surrounding areas and states.  The French and Indian War is one of those things that unfortunately only gets a small blurb in most history books, but the events and battles are what shaped the nation we now know as the United States of America.

For more information about Searight’s Toll House, click here.  Additional info about the National Road can be found here.

Western Pennsylvania is full of history from our country’s beginnings to present day.  Explore PA History is a terrific website to start at to plan a trip to this historical region, as well as other areas in Pennsylvania. 

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10 thoughts on “A field trip to Fort Necessity

  1. A wonderful outing! Great photos. Looks like a fun day.

    Pennsylvania is so rich in history. Our part of the state is Revolutionary War and Civil War; yours is French and Indian. Very sad how many lives were lost.

    • Yes, I think sometimes all that people who aren’t from here think about is Philadelphia, Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell when they think about history in Pennsylvania. There is so much to see and check out! I also don’t think most people realize just how strong the Native American presence was in Western Pennsylvania. Our old family homestead was apparently something of major significance to one of the tribes, my dad amassed an enormous collection of arrowheads over the years just from working in the yard and plowing the fields.

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