Document Collection

A History of the Valley Forge Mill Dam
by Dave Madary and Mike Bertram

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After the Revolutionary War, in the late 1780s, a new dam was built across Valley Creek to service a forge and a rolling and slitting works. This dam was rebuilt a number of times over its lifespan. For example, in 1843 it was damaged and rebuilt (see newspaper article).

The following photo of the dam by Lucy Sampson is dated between 1898 and 19011. It looks to be a different dam from that in the Langenheim photo.

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In the spring of 1901 the dam was destroyed again by a freshet as described in the newspaper article, Weeds in Valley Forge dam.

The following photo shows the destroyed dam (just to the right of the cotton mill):
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The dam was then rebuilt for the last time as shown on this photo taken between 1901 and 19072:

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This version of the dam can be identified by the decorative concrete spheres at the ends of the dam. A number of photos of this dam exist.

In 1920 the State Park demolished the Cotton Mill and dam. The story of the fight to save the dam is described in the following series of newspaper articles.


  1. Lucy Sampson took up photography in 1898 (see the article Lucy Sampson - Berwyn Photographer, TE Quarterly, vol 48, #2 (June 2011)).
  2. Photograph courtesy of Valley Forge National Historical Park, and is included in National Park Service, Cultural Landscapes Inventory, Village of Valley Forge which can be found at: