Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Valley Forge NHP- Week 4

Week 4 has been all about interpretation at Valley Forge. We started the week at Washington's Headquarters with Rangers Bill Troppman and George Matlock. Washington's Headquarters is the place where Washington and his troops stayed during the winter encampment at Valley Forge. We learned about the significance of the rooms and the historical value of the furniture within the rooms.

In the afternoon, we went to the Train Station. This station was used in the early 1900's to transport people to and from Philadelphia. While the train station was not around during the time of the encampment, it still serves as an important historical landmark at Valley Forge. Our tasks for the day included greeting visitors and directing visitors to the rooms. At the train station we directed visitors to Washington's Headquarters.

The next day we were at the Visitor Center working behind the front desk with Ranger Marlene Concordia. She taught us how to use the microphone to make the many daily announcements regarding the time frame for Ranger lead tours, the trolley tour and the free welcoming film shown at the Theater. Other important tasks that the front desk handles is the sale of public lands passes, answering the phone, greeting our visitors and offering our knowledge of the park when asked; the most common questions being which sites to see first or which trails to hike.

Later in the week, Angela and I met up with more of the interpretation crew for black powder training. Although it was sweltering hot on this day, we made the best of the situation and really enjoyed learning all about 18th century Muskets. The Muskets we use here in the park for reenactment are authentic, but not original pieces. Ranger Marc Brier explained the strict guidelines the park has about which weapons we permit for reenactment because of the need to preserve historical integrity. We learned some of the basic drills a solider during Valley Forge would perform along with how to properly load and fire the weapon. Later, we had the opportunity fire the Muskets multiple times as well as the 18th century rifle that Washington’s most elite men would have used during the encampment. The interpretation crew was incredibly knowledgeable and a lot of fun to be around.

The next day, Angela and I inspected the Park Ranger vehicles to see if they were properly equipped. Each vechicle is to be equipped to handle just about any emergency and to aid a given ranger with their duties. We also checked the lights, sirens, radio, and camera to make sure they were functioning properly. Later that day, Cheif Tinkham gave us a bicycle lesson. He taught us how to properly ride and care for the bikes. He instructed us on how the brakes and gears work. We rode around part of the park to apply what we learned and familiarize ourselves with the bikes.

On the final day, we were assigned to a task that involved looking for missing signs that read "Area Closed at Dark." We learned that these signs are posted at park entrances in order to help discourage visitors from entering the park after hours. When these signs disappear or are stolen, people can enter the park after hours with little proof that they knew of the policy. We went to every entrance and marked the existing signs and took note of the areas where signs were missing.

Interpretation has given me more insight about the importance of the history at Valley Forge. I hope everyone is continuing to enjoy their parks. Until next time! ProRangers Ben and Angela

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