Friday, May 7, 2010

What a Secret

1. barn

For over a year my husband and I have been in search of an old barn.
Not just any old barn, but Walnut Hill (or what I thought was Pawling's Mill/Farm) in Valley Forge.

We really weren't sure what we'd see, but as Valley Forge is one of our favorite places to go we wanted to find this site, well off the beaten path. We searched online and on various trail maps through out the park, but no amount of driving around helped us to locate the barn. It was like a secret only the most knowledgeable of Valley Forger's knew.

Eventually we stopped looking.

And started biking.

We never bike the main 6 mile loop in the park because it is often quite busy. We opt instead to ride the rails to trails that run in and out of the park between our house and Philadelphia. One day my husband told me he saw a trail that ran up into the woods and he really wanted to take it just for something "fun " to do. I say "fun" because it was a bit more challenging that either of us realized at the time. (I almost flipped off my bike when my foot got caught between a large tree root and my pedal for instance)

Anyway, we were on this path, more like a deer trail, and cruising along (getting lost) when I saw a stone structure between the trees. I immediately started biking towards it because it seemed quite large. We found an even smaller trail (what really might have been a deer trail at this point) that came out of the woods, and oh my.

We found our barn.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was massive. The barn was built in 1826, with a large addition added in 1845. (so said the little sign posted on the side of the barn, with a firm warning not to jump the fence surrounding the barn itself) We both just rode around and around the barn in awe.

And then I noticed a second building.

It was the decaying ruins of the mansion, built in 1743 by Mr. Henry Pawling II. What remained of the once large estate, was crumbling columns, broken glass, and some stone. But it was beautiful. I've not been back, but when I do I will take a million pictures. For now I will share with you some that I found on Flickr:

And now it is time for me to head out on another bike ride.
I wonder if I'll make any discoveries this time? :)

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