A Visit to Our Nation’s First Capital

Wheres we are and where we have been:

We saw no White House, no Capital building, no large Congressional offices, no metro trains, not even Smithsonian.  Where? Philadelphia, Franklin, New York, Washington DC??? NO

We went jacks up from the Promised Land Wednesday around noon and headed south and west – not to that political Promised Land – but to York, PA. After slowly making our way through the ups and downs of the Pocono Mountains, at Allentown, we picked up US Route 30, the first paved transcontinental highway in the nation, extending from Astoria, OR to Atlantic City, NJ.  It is sometimes known as the Lincoln Highway and meanders its way through many historical sites here in Pennsylvania.

A PA Town along US 30

We set jacks down at Ben Franklin RV Park around 4PM.  Tomorrow we will explore the Colonial Complex here in York.

Have I mentioned lately that I love history and find it fascinating?  So here goes a bit of a history review.  York, or Yorktown as it was called in the 18th and early 19th century, is sometimes referred to as the first Capital of the United States.  The claim evolves from the assertion that the Articles of Confederation was the first legal document to refer to the colonies as “the United States of America”.  In 1778 after the British captured Philadelphia, York served as the temporary capital of the Continental Congress. It was here that the Articles of Confederation, our first constitution, were drafted and adopted.  It was also here that a plot to replace Washington as the Commander of the fledgling colonial troops was blocked.  For the nine months that York served as the Nation’s capital, it was home to such notable Americans as Thomas Paine, John Hancock, John Adams, Horatio Gates, and Samuel Adams.

The four structures of the Colonial Complex are within a few hundred feet of one another and all except the Court House are authentic.  According to the brochures: Political intrigue, tavern life and a family home – all available in a single visit to this site . . . in downtown York. These buildings reflect both private and public lives in early York.

The Court House


The Courthouse:

The Court House is a reproduction of the one built here in 1756. The original offered refuge to the Continental Congress while it met and debated the shape of our nation. At the time it was only building in the area large enough to accommodate them.


Golden Plough Tavern & Gates House

The Golden Plough Tavern

The Golden Plough Tavern, built in 1741, served far more than food and drink in colonial times. Like other taverns, the Golden Plough served up the news of the day.  As meeting place and a hotel, I’m sure that many thorny issues of the Continental Congress were hashed out over a brew in the evening.


The General Gates House

Sharing a common wall to the Plough Tavern is The General Gates House built around 1751.  It contains furnishings to represent the home as it would have been when Gen. Horatio Gates lived there while the Continental Congress met in York.  It is said that it was here that General Lafayette raised a toast in support of George Washington.  The toast is said to have thwarted a plot to undermine Washington as Commander-in-Chief and replace him with Gates.  There is a statue of Lafayette outside the house with his glass raised in toast.

Lafayette & General Gates House

Barnett Bobb Log House

The Barnett Bobb Log House

Built in 1811, the Barnett Bobb Log House is a two-story structure built from squared timbers. It was relocated to the Complex and completes the last of the four buildings.  It was brought in to depict an average Pennsylvania German home in the early 19th century.  Much of the early settlers to the area were from Germany.

Note the water pump next to where I am standing

Our tour of the four building in the Colonial Complex was shortened since we just missed the tour group and entrance to the buildings is only by tour.  Neither of us wanted to stand around for at least an hour waiting for the next tour and the then spend another hour following the guide, so we explored the outsides of the buildings, peeked in windows and took some pictures.

After leaving the downtown area, it was time for our habitual trek to Wal-Mart to restock our lauder.  Tomorrow we move further west.



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