The earliest forge ...
Q.We are descended from Lewis Walker, father of Daniel Walker who started the early iron forge at the foot of Mts. Misery and Joy on the Valley Creek. We recently walked the Creek area looking for the "early" iron forge. Is it below where the PS of A building is? What were the other buildings in the area used for? Which ones were there during the Encampment? We have a family history book that has interesting information about some of this, but were seeking additonal info!
Wendy Walker, Ridgefield, CT
A.The earliest forge, supposedly was up the creek between today's location of the Knox Covered Bridge and POS of A building. The "newer" forge was located approximately 3/4 of a mile up the creek from the Schuylkill River. December 13, 1742 — the parcel of land which eventually would become the Valley Forge was purchased by Stephen Evans, Daniel Walker and Joseph Williams. The three, in partnership, developed the "Mount Joy Forge" which of course, became known as the "Valley Forge." The forge was more than just a blacksmith shop. . .it was a full-fledged ironworks containing a bloomery, chafery, finery, slitting mill, converted irons, made bars as well as manufacturing and finishing metal products.
Records show that Walker sold out his share around 1751 and the other two, Evans and Williams, added a sawmill. They sold out by 1757 to John Potts and a gristmill was later added. It was a pretty state of the art facility by then.
The forges and all the buildings in the complex were burned to the ground by the British in September of 1777, three months before the troops went into winter quarters there.
Louis DuPortail, in his map of the encampment during the winter of 1777-1778, included the ruins of the buildings at the foot of Mt. Misery.
Most of the buildings in Valley Forge (the "community") were built after the Revolution. Alot of the early nineteenth century buildings are no longer surviving. Most of the farmhouses used as quarters for the officers during the encampment are in the hands of the Valley Forge National Historical Park. If you are interested in learning more about the buildings, you can contact them. They have done fairly comprehensive studies over the years and have a lot more information than we do.
SAS, Courtesy The Valley Forge Historical Society