[at-l] Franklin and Fort Dietrich Snyder

RockDancer rockdancer97 at comcast.net
Fri Jan 8 13:19:11 CST 2010


Philadelphia. And before the American Revolution, Reading was a fledgling village laid out by the sons of William Penn.

The Blue Mountain ridge at Berks' northern edge provided a natural barrier to further settlement.
This was in yesterdays Reading (PA) Eagle; I have, somewhere, a reference that Benjamin Franklin went on an extended trip from Philadelphia in order to lay out the line of forts for their western defense. When I reached this spot on my thru I took special care to find the water source for the fort, still accessible to hikers. --RockDancer

http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=184183

Q: Did forts once exist along the Blue Mountain in Berks County?

At one point in history, Berks County was the frontier. Think about it. The epicenter of early Pennsylvania was Philadelphia. And before the American Revolution, Reading was a fledgling village laid out by the sons of William Penn. 

The Blue Mountain ridge at Berks' northern edge provided a natural barrier to further settlement.

At the time of the French and Indian War in the 1750s, most Pennsylvanians lived close to Philadelphia, and lands beyond the Susquehanna River were under Indian control, said Dr. Michael Gabriel, chairman of the Kutztown University history department.

"This was still the Wild West," he said.

So, it makes sense that the Blue Mountain ridge, one of the highest points in the region, would be home to a series of forts and outposts.

Recognizing the danger that existed from Indian raids from the north, settlers, backed by the territorial government, built a string of forts along Blue Mountain, Gabriel said.

The forts were set in strategic points of the mountain, mostly at natural gaps and Indian trails, to offer early detection for the settlements below.

"The guys that had to live in them had pretty tough lives," Gabriel said.

None of the forts remains today.

But along the Appalachian Trail, which runs along the spine of the Blue Mountain, a monument stands as a silent reminder to the forts that protected early Berks settlers.

Placed by the Historical Society of Berks County, the monument is about a quarter-mile off Route 183 in Upper Tulpehocken Township. It marks the site of the former Fort Dietrich Snyder.

Stephen Wakefield, a Shillington native now living in Washington, D.C., recently wrote to the Reading Eagle to learn more about Berks County's role in the French and Indian War.

Wakefield is an avid hiker who has traveled on the Appalachian Trail in Berks County and remembered coming upon the monument.

Scott Birchman, who patrols the Berks County section of the trail for the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, said the fort was close to a mountain spring, which made it an ideal location.

When he walks by, Birchman sometimes tries to picture the fort and how it looked when the area was teeming with activity.

Much of the terrain is now state game lands, and even though it's near the highway, the site still consists mainly of unbroken wilderness.

That makes it easy to imagine what this section of Berks County was like when it was the frontier.

Arthur Gaudet (RockDancer)
Rockdancer97 at comcast.net
"The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon."



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