Maj. George Washington (Eric Forster of Butler) and guide Christopher Gist (Bob Shaner of Leechburg) react to a musket shot fired by a "French Indian" (Robin Herne of Pittsburgh, obscured by smoke) in one of nine reenactments during hikes along the Connoquenessing Creek in Harmony during Saturday’s commemoration of the 260th anniversary of Washington’s 1753 mission to demand French withdrawal from the Ohio Country, sparking the French and Indian War. The program by the Harmony Museum and Washington’s Trail 1753 attracted more than 300 people, a record turnout for the annual event. Washington’s party spent the night of Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 1753, at a Delaware Indian village near the site of today’s Harmony; 27 days later an Indian from a northern tribe allied with the French fired the War’s first shot at Washington east of today’s Evans City, but missed.

 Hike with George Washington---November 29th

George Washington is coming to Harmony, Pa. Saturday morning, November 29th, for his historic mission to western Pennsylvania.  You can join in on the excitement. You’ll hike to a re-enactment of Washington’s camp along the Connoquenessing Creek, visit with French and Indian War re-enactors, and witness the Indian gunshot that almost killed Washington when he was just 21 years old.

It was late in 1753 when George Washington, just 21 years old, was dispatched by the governor of the Virginia Colony to demand withdrawal of French forces building forts in territory claimed by England. Washington’s travel party reached what is now Butler County on November 30, spending the night camped along the Connoquenessing Creek near present day Harmony. 

Washington did find the French forts--Fort LeBoeuf (Waterford, Pa.) and Fort Presque Isle (Erie Pa.). The ultimatum he carried to the French, and the intelligence he acquired on his journey, were instrumental in triggering the French and Indian War the following spring.

To commemorate Washington’s mission, a 1-mile hike and re-enactment will take place November 29th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. at the Harmony Museum’s Stewart Hall, 218 Mercer St. Harmony Pa. (Just off I-79, Exit 87 or 88.)

Guided hikes will leave from there beginning at 10 a.m., and continuing about every 45 minutes until about noon. Guides will read from journals kept by Washington and his guide, Christopher Gist, and provide perspective on Washington’s hazardous journey into the wilderness that was then western Pennsylvania.  

Admission is $3 per person; children aged five or younger are free. Payment will be collected at the event. Each hiking group will be limited in size, so participants are urged to reserve start times. Reservations can be made by phoning the Harmony Museum at 724-452-7341.

Cookies and hot cider will be served. Books and Washington-related mementos will be available for sale.

The hike will cover about a mile on a well-maintained trail and sidewalks. Participants are advised to wear appropriate footwear as well as clothing suitable for the day’s weather conditions.

This annual commemoration is conducted jointly by the Harmony Museum, and Washington’s Trail 1753 to increase public awareness of a little-known but important chapter of American history.

Questions? Call Rodney Gasch 724-290-2129

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