MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Nestled back in the woods of Colonial Beach, Va., less than 60 miles from Quantico, sits a historical farm that, in 1732, welcomed a great American patriot into the world.
That 556-acre national park is the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. Open every day accept the days of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, the main campus is free and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. depicting the life, times and family of a young George Washington.
“George Washington’s first steps were here,” said Phillip Greenwalt, park ranger. “This is where you’ll find George before he was George.”
The family farm was where George was born and raised until four years old. It still reflects the times and practices of the 18th century.
“When you’re here, you get the same experience George Washington had,” said Dick Lahey, park ranger. “Because of the unchanging landscape and peacefulness of the place, it’s a different approach to seeing historic sights. There are many opportunities here.”
Visitors get opportunities to experience venues including a blacksmith shop, weaving shop, working farm and 18th-century house. There is also a menagerie of heritage-bred (same type that Washington would have had) animals such as hogs, horses, cows, chickens, guineas and sheep.
“We can see how people used to live because the staff matches the period,” said Ruth Draper, visitor from Lafayette, Ind. “I think the park is great.”
The park not only offers a glimpse into the past, but also hosts a variety of contemporary opportunities for guests including: utilizing the two-mile nature walk, watching for the 220 species of birds identified there, using one of the places in the park to re-enlist or become a citizen, sharing a meal under the pavilion or picnic area and renting the log house for a wedding, rehearsal, meeting or party.
Park rangers commented that general tours are given on the hour and most living history, re-enacting, occurs between Memorial Day and Labor Day and during special events.
“This truly is an American story,” said Greenwalt. “Wherever President Washington’s steps went, they started here. “You can start your journey here too.”
For information call the park at 888-224-1732, visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/gewa/index.htm or look them up on Facebook as George Washington Birthplace National Monument or on Twitter as GW Birthplace NM.