America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Fort Mifflin and Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
It might seem an odd combination, to find Revolutionary War history, a nature preserve, and commerce so closely tied together, but that's what you'll see, and all within a few miles, really, of the greater known historic sites of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the center of Philadelphia. It's not much of a trek, but you'll almost have to get lost to find it, despite the fact that for many who come to the City of Brotherly Love through the Philadelphia International Airport, you'll probably have passed these sites on the way to your hotel. But this history, of the human and natural kind, might make a nice sojourn back toward the airport confines, to find a small piece of history, and a little peace of mind, that gets kinda forgotten in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania lore, in many parts, becasue of its location. Photo above: Interior grounds of Fort Mifflin along the Delaware River.
Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Fort Mifflin and Heinz National Wildlife Center
But, the odd part is, it's the location of these two sites that made them so important. First, at Fort Mifflin, to the nation. Second, to the land, at Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, where the only freshwater tidal marsh in the state of Pennsylvania resides, keeping the migratory bird population happy as they trek south for the winter, and the over one hundred thousand visitors pleased as they walk the paths, fish the waters, and glide across them.
Fort Mifflin sits on the Delaware River, one of a number of Revolutionary War forts, including one directly across from it on the New Jersey side, Fort Mercer, which was an earthen fort interpreted at Red Bank Battlefield Park, that guarded the entry to Philadelphia and points north on the river. And during the Revolutionary War, it played a part so important, that had the 1777 battle and bombardment at Fort Mifflin against the ships of the British Navy bringing supplies to their troops had not been successful, the Army of George Washington may never had made it into camp at Valley Forge due to the potential earlier pursuit of the British Army against its camp at Whitemarsh and the battle there after Mifflin had fallen. And if that had not happened, the development of the Continental Army into a fighting force that could win that long war of freedom may never had occurred.
The Fort Mifflin bombardment was the largest bombardment of the war, and the 400 men fighting against the British here for six weeks in the fall of 1777 from early October until November 15 have a special tale to tell. There are guided walks of the fort in the summer season, cannon demonstrations, and a cool fort to explore. This is a place children can explore and like, maybe even more than those great places inside the city. And they may end up knowing something extra about how our nation became a nation that very few know.
Photo above: Sign leading into the Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Photo below: Interior of the fort.
Where Is It
Fort Mifflin is 3.5 miles from the Heinz Refuge and signs are harder to find than for the National Wildlife tract. From downtown Philly, take I-95 south to Exit 15 (Island Avenue/Enterprise Avenue), then left on Fort Mifflin Road and look for signs.
What is There Now
A Revolutionary War Fort with parapets, cannons, and parade grounds.
A gift shop.
Walks and talks in summer.
Parking in front of the moat, which you should avoid, and there is a group of picnic tables overlooking the Delaware River.
When Did It Open
It's the Revolutionary War time period folks, so prior to 1775, which is the year the Americans took control of the British fort.
How Much to Visit
Adult - $8.00
Senior - $6.00
Student (6-12), Veterans - $4.00
Child (Under 6) - Free
The site is open March 1 to December 15. There is a couple dollar extra fee on some special event days.
Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
How Many People Visit
13,000 people per year. And on the way up!!
Brandywine State Battlefield and Paoli Battlefield
Philadelphia Historic Attractions, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House, and a whole lot more. Citizen's Bank Park (home of the Phillies), which is not far from any of these sites.
Photo above: Independence Hall. Courtesy National Archives.