Date: November 3, 2010
Byline: Joe Barron
Springfield Township High School students package audio tour of local Revolutionary War sites
Springfield Township entered the company of hallowed tourist draws like the Gettysburg battlefield last week with the release of its very own audio tour.
The hour-long CD is the work of the last year’s junior AP U.S. history class at Springfield Township High School, and it centers on the events of November and December 1777, when George Washington’s Army camped on the hills of Whitemarsh.
Members of the class, who are currently seniors, and their teacher, Peggy Zehner, presented a supply of the CDs as a gift to the Springfield Township Historical Society Oct. 28. The society is offering the recording to the public, so that anyone with a car and a CD player — or a bicycle and a Discman — can spend an informative afternoon re-living a brief but crucial episode of the American Revolution.
“When Peggy Zehner called, I was just ecstatic,” historical society President Ed Zwicker said. “It’s a wonderful gift to help preserve the township’s history and make it available to everyone.”
The recorded tour begins and ends at the Black Horse Inn, but its takes travelers far outside the boundaries of Springfield Township. Stops on the route include the Cliveden House in Germantown; Mather’s Mill, St. Thomas’ Church and Hope Lodge in Whitemarsh; the Emlen House in Upper Dublin; and the Manufacturers Golf and Country Club, site of the Battle of Edge Hill.
All of the buildings mentioned in the tour can still be seen, Zehner said.
The students began work on the project in May, when they took their final examinations and found they had a month of classes left to fill. Zehner credited the idea to her husband, Mark Zehner, who, she said, thought the area needed a guided tour of the sort found at more famous Civil War battlefields.
In preparing the narration, the students talked to local historians and looked over the old book collection at the Springfield Township Library. Much of the information about the Black Horse came from a book discovered at Germantown Academy, student Mary Helen Schwartz said.
Production took longer than expected, as it always does, but the class persevered into the summer.
“Some of the students were there after the school year was over,” Zehner said.
The CD includes music from the Colonial period and the voices of the students themselves playing the parts of soldiers, spies, generals and even the alleged victim of a witch’s spell.
Indeed, the most surprising historical tidbit the students discovered in their research was that a belief in witchcraft was very much alive in Flourtown as late as the 1780s, student Erica Moser said.
Student Scott Vierick, who portrays George Washington on the CD, also learned a simple lesson about the burden of command.
“He spent a lot of his time writing to Congress, begging for supplies,” Vierick said.
Copies of “The Battle of Edgehill/The Whitemarsh Encampment,” an audio tour produced by students of Springfield Township High School, are available from the Springfield Township Historical Society at the Black Horse Inn, Flourtown, Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Requested donation is $10. Proceeds benefit the historical society.
The society is looking for volunteers to help expand its office hours at the Black Horse, Zwicker said. Those interested in volunteering may call 215-233-4600.