Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route 2021 Highlights

The National Park Service provided the following highlights for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route NHT during the 2021 calendar year:

Conserving Trail Lands and Boosting Climate Resilience

Fort Adams volunteer Scott-Lemieux cutting stumps at Fort Butts, Portsmouth, R.I., Nov 2021 as part of restoration effort. Photo Courtesy W3RUS.

In collaboration with the National Park Service, W3R-US provided technical assistance with locally based organizations along the Trail and historian support to assist with preservation efforts associated with conserving evocative sections of the Trail within Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland. Efforts led to advocacy within State Historic Preservation Offices and other stakeholders for preservation of lands that are key to the Trail’s stories.

Collaboration and Engagement

Trail Administrator, Johnny Carawan, and French Consulate, Arnaud Mentre, attend the dedication of Grave markers for two fallen French soldiers from the American Revolution. The dedication was the preamble to a series of weekend-long events recognizing Revolutionary Newport and the Franco-American alliance. Photo courtesy NPS.

  • Broadened W3R-US’ ability to tell the Trail’s story of the Franco-American Alliance through through forming new relationships with organizations with compatible missions, such as The Franco-American Chamber of Commerce in Washington. D.C., the American Society of Le Souvenir Française. Likewise, relationships were formed and/or renewed with the French Consuls in districts along the trail.
  • Provided $57,000 in funding to support accessibility efforts with the Dey Mansion in Wayne, NJ. Funding led to the development of exhibits for reaching new audiences and making them accessible to visually and mobility impaired visitors.

Strengthening Organizations and Partnerships

A First Rhode Island reenactor points to himself in the new Dan Troiani Painting “Brave Men as Ever” at the American Revolution Museum in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy W3RUS.

W3R-US participated in the Congress of the American Revolution Roundtable (ARRT) held at Mount Vernon Nov 20-21, 2021. Previously the Congress had included only Roundtable members, whose focus is scholarly and educational/promotional. W3R-US also formed a new relationship with the American Battlefield Trust, who assisted by promoting the trail story of two fallen French Officers in Newport to their members and social media followers.

The NPS incorporated the Founding Cities Initiative, which included outreach to 30 other sites and historical organizations along the Trail as well as to members of Congress, most of whom were unaware of the trail or how they might play a role in supporting its work. This program also addresses W3R-US’ Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion program. The relationship with Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman’s office resulted in her writing an op-ed for the Washington Post in July 2021, with research provided by W3R-US, addressing the need for inclusion of the role of African Americans in the March to Yorktown in the upcoming 250th. Subsequently, this resulted in the formation of a new relationship with the Liberty Memorial Foundation which will create a monument to the African Americans who participated in the Revolutionary War on the National Mall for the 250th Anniversary of the Founding of the nation.

W3R-US was also actively involved in assisting the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia with publicity for the story of the integrated First Rhode Island Regiment in the new painting featuring them by renowned historical artist Don Troiani, donated to their collection by WARO.

Local Economy, Tourism and Community Health

WARO and W3R worked hand in hand this past year to host a series of trail-wide special events, which helped the local economies of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The most notable event was Revolutionary Weekend on Newport, RI, with W3R providing $36,000 in funding for special events. Newport Events were publicized via tourism outlets and incorporated living history events that drew over 2,000 visitors and infused approximately $115,000 into the local economy.

Education, Interpretation and Cultural Expression

4th Graders learn about the Trail by participating in “Be a Patriot or Not” special program in La Plata, MD. Picture taken by Elaine Lawton.

Through a generous grant from the National Park Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids program (OOK), W3R-US developed hybrid materials for classroom and outdoors use for Title 1 schools in Virginia to promote the history of the March to Yorktown and the NHT that exists right in their own backyards. W3R-US also developed an immersive “Be a Patriot – or Not” educational program for fourth graders with a pilot presented in November 2021 at the Maryland Veterans Museum.

HUZZAH! Be a Patriot or Not classroom program for 4th graders at Maryland Veterans Museum. Photo courtesy W3RUS.

Through another grant from the National Park Foundation grant W3R is currently developing a travel app for high potential sites and hubs along the trail and develop a historic map overlay for the existing legislated driving route to be added to a future phase.

Other Highlights

Trail administrator Johnny Carawan standing with artist Don Troani and 1st Rhode Island reenactors at the unveiling of “Brave Men as Ever,” in Philadelphia, PA. Picture taken by Doug Levering.

Launched a variety of programs and initiatives to highlight the distinctive aspects of cultural diversity associated with the Trail and to help diverse audiences establish personal connections to the Trail and its stories. Programs included a grant for $20,000 from the National Park Foundation to fund 18th Century Perspectives of African Americans living in New Jersey during the Revolution. Funding was provided by the Trail to the Museum of the American Revolution for hosting a year-long special exhibit and to commission a painting, “Brave Men as Ever”, that features African American soldiers in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment (cir. 1781) marching in front of Independence Hall. Additional events included African American reenactors, portraying members of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, at a variety of Trail-wide events.