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On The Road To The Past

The Return Journey from
the IPMS Nationals

 

Yorktown Virginia

by Brett Green


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On the Road to the Past...

 

I checked out of my Virginia Beach hotel on another hot day to start the long journey back to Sydney Australia.

The destination of the day was Washington. Two long traffic jams convinced me to find an alternate route, so I headed towardYorktown.

The wide clear expanse of the Freeway makes way for a two-lane highway lined with rich green forest. At the next intersection, the golden arches of McDonalds guard the border between the present and the past. Time seems to wind backwards as I draw closer to Yorktown. History almost speaks through the narrow roads, old barricades, earthworks and centuries-old houses.

Yorktown Virginia is the site of the famous 1781 siege of British forces under General Cornwallis. This final victory by American and French soldiers ultimately secured the independence of the United States. Standing quietly under the canopy of trees it is hard to imagine the violence and destruction visited on this town during the siege. 80% of the town was irreparably damaged, and the town itself never really recovered.

The US National Parks Service does an excellent job providing historical and educational material; conducting tours of the monuments, houses, battlefields and landmarks; and demonstrating techniques for preparing, loading and firing 18th century cannon. Yorktown is well worth the detour off the Freeway for a thorough visit.

 

 

My afternoon at Yorktown convinced me to keep travelling on this strip of land soaked with history. I continued 100 miles north on Route 19 to see Fredericksburg.

Whereas Yorktown is a monument to history, Fredericksburg is a more lived-in example of an 18th century colonial town. Although the foundation of Fredericksburg predates white settlement of Australia, the town layout, street names and building styles are all hauntingly familiar to this Sydneysider. As I pass through the old town centre, these similarities are a plain reminder of our common colonial pasts.

The clutter of gas stations, sporting goods stores and mini-malls signal the approach to the I-95 and modern American civilization as we know it. With a steak under my belt and the sun sliding down the sky, it is time to return to 2002. Ah yes, another traffic jam - this must be the right place.

Next stop, Washington.

 

 

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Model, Images and Article Copyright 2002 by Brett Green
Page Created 04 August 2002
Last updated 25 January 2003

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