A few weeks back Charlie and I decided to take a trip to see where George Washington “crossed the Delaware River” on Christmas Night 1776. Washington’s Crossing Parks are located in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Actually, I’m not really sure this destination was tops on Charlie’s list of places to vacation/visit, but as always she came along to keep me happy.
After approximately seven hours of driving we arrived in Lamberville, NJ which is only about eight miles from where Washington “crossed the Delaware River”. We stayed in a great hotel there that was recommended by a relative. It was a beautiful evening so Charlie and I decided to take a walk before heading to our room. Directly outside of our hotel was a small bridge that spanned the Delaware designed for both pedestrian and car traffic. We walked and “crossed the Delaware River”…just like George Washington.
The next morning we got up bright and early so we could visit both parks and still have a good part of the day remaining for other exploration. I looked at the New Jersey Park brochure for directions and discovered the park didn’t open until 10:00AM (since both Charlie and I are early risers, this is practically mid-day to us).
To kill some time we drove around Lambertville, just sightseeing and then “crossed the Delaware River” to the town of New Hope, Pennsylvania. New Hope proved to be a wonderful little town, filled with many restaurants and night spots. Both Charlie and I agreed that it was a fun place to visit, once.
Around 10:00ish we headed over to New Jersey’s Washington Crossing Park. Truthfully, there really wasn’t much there. Yes, it is a beautiful “park”, perfect for jogging and walking, but the main thing directly related to Washington’s Crossing was the visitor center. Charlie and I enjoyed the Visitor Center very much, but it was old, very old and small, very small.
I spoke to one of the attendants:
Me: I know Washington and his troops landed in this area and that the battle against the Hessian was really in Trenton not here. Is there anything in Trenton to see?
Him: Well, if you ride along RT 29, you’ll get an idea of how far Washington led his troops to fight. But unfortunately, there is little in Trenton today that was there at the time of the battle. Many of the original buildings were torn down during the Industrial Revolution, although the barracks are still there.
Charlie was in ear short of this conversation. I said to her, “we’ve got to take a ride to Trenton”.
“Why?” she inquired
“Because it makes no sense to come this far and not actually see where Washington changed the course of history.
Again, Charlie being the good traveling companion agreed, although reluctantly.
I know on Christmas night 1776, Washington’s troops marched during a bitter, cold blizzard to Trenton…now, I’m not saying my drive to Trenton anywhere near reached the level of discomfort the continental army faced that night, but it was not pleasant, to say the least.
As I traveled the unfamiliar rode to Trenton, cars blazed by me on the left and on the right. Charlie asked, “what rode are we looking for?”
“Memorial Drive”, I said, “that is where the barracks are located”.
Whizz, a Honda sped by…
Whizz, a Jeep sped by…
“There, over there”, Charlie yelled, “Memorial Drive is over there”.
“I can’t get over”, I yelled back, “the cars around me are going too fast”.
…and I missed Memorial Drive.
I said to Charlie, “Don’t worry, I’ll just take the next left and shot around, that should bring us back to Memorial Drive”.
Charlie turned and just gave me a look that only Charlie can give. After taking the left, I ended up on another bridge and “crossed the Delaware River” again. I’m a little hazy on this next part, but somewhere, someplace, somehow I made a U-Turn and ended up on the same bridge and…”crossed the Delaware River” again.
Memorial Drive was not to be seen, but several large New Jersey DPW trucks were…in fact, they were directly in front of me closing down the lane.
Charlie said, “you need to get in the other lane”.
“I know”, I responded, “but I can’t”.
Zoom, a Lexus shot by us…
Zoom went a Toyota…
Zoom a Ford… zoom, zoom.
Finally, a miracle happened…a car stopped and waved me passage to the free lane. With perspiration on my forehead I said “Forget the barracks “. Charlie gave me the look.
The Pennsylvania side of Washington’s Crossing was in stark contrast to the New Jersey side. There were several buildings to visit, a replica of the Durham boats used by Washington to move his men across the river and a wonderfully, spiffy visitors center staffed by an older gentleman in a period costume.
The contrast in the two parks motivated Charlie to start a conversation with the man.
Charlie: Is this park run by the Federal Government?
Him: Oh no, this is run by the State of Pennsylvania.
Charlie: The New Jersey side?
Him: Yup, state run too.
Charlie: Seems strange the Feds haven’t taken it over.
Him: Well, several years back, the Federal Government approached both states and offered to take over.
Him: Pennsylvania said yes (I think he meant “yeah”), but New Jersey said no (I think he meant “nay”). And the Feds said, we want both sides or we do not want any of it…so it is all state run.
After visiting the outside buildings, Charlie and I made our way around the gift shop. I bought two pencils ($1.50), a book mark ($3.95, I think) and I asked Charlie if she wanted a Culper Hat that read “Join or Die”, she declined the offer with the Charlie look and no words.