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The 2024 Congress in Lancaster, Pa., July 10-16

SAR Magazine
Fall 2023, Vol. 118. No. 2. pp. 6-7
Louisville, KY

The 2024 Congress will be held in Pennsylvania Dutch country; opposite page top, charming Kitchen Kettle Village; opposite page below, the Strasburg Railroad is America’s oldest continuously operating railroad.

Willkumm in Lancaster!

The Pennsylvania SAR welcomes compatriots and guests to the 134th Annual Congress in Lancaster, Pa., July 10-16, 2024. For our friends outside Southcentral Pennsylvania, Lancaster is pronounced locally as Lang-kiss-ter. Rest assured that no matter how you pronounce it, we will have a fantastic congress in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country!

Lancaster, first settled by German immigrants in 1709, was named by a prominent citizen, John Wright, after Lancaster, England. Lancaster became the county seat of Lancaster County in 1729, the capital of the American Colonies for one day—Sept. 21, 1777—and the capital of Pennsylvania from 1799 to 1812. Lancaster is 71 miles west of Philadelphia and sits along the banks of the Susquehanna River. During the American Revolution, Lancaster served as an essential munitions center.

Lancaster is located within a day’s drive of all or part of 22 states in the eastern United States. Lancaster is also readily accessible by airplane and train. For those wishing to fly, the Pennsylvania Society recommends flying to Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), which is a 40-minute drive to the Lancaster Marriott Hotel. Philadelphia (PHL) and Baltimore (BWI) airports are within two driving hours of Lancaster. Allegiant, American, Delta, United and Frontier airlines service Harrisburg International Airport.

Those seeking to travel by train will be happy to hear that Amtrak serves Lancaster through the Keystone and Pennsylvanian daily trains, and the Lancaster Station (LNC) is two miles from the hotel. Connections are available through Pittsburgh (Cardinal and Capitol Limited) or Philadelphia (Northeast Corridor, Carolinian, Crescent, Silver Service and Vermonter).
Several interstate and U.S. highways service Lancaster.

The Congress hotel is the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, 25 S. Square St., Lancaster, PA 17603. The link to the hotel for registration is on the NSSAR webpage under the Events tab. Once you click on 2024-Lancaster, Pa., it will open the Congress webpage for you. Put your cursor on the “Hotel Registration Link,” and it will turn blue. Click it, and it will open the hotel registration page.

Remember, this Congress schedule is is different. EXCOM/SARF will meet on July 10. The Long Tours and Host Reception will be on Thursday, July 11. The Memorial Service and Trustees Meeting will be held on Friday, July 12. Saturday, July 13, is the Opening Session, Youth Awards and Minuteman/Awards Night. The PGs Banquet and Ladies Luncheon will be on Sunday, July 14, and Monday, July 15, is the last session of Congress, with Short Tours and the Installation Banquet. On Tuesday, July 16, there will be two post-Congress tours available.

The Pennsylvania Society is planning two long and two short tours during Congress.

  • York, Pa. (Long Tour) – Visitors will be transported back to September 1777 and follow the Second Continental Congress from Lancaster to York as the fledgling American government moved west to escape General William Howe’s advancing army. York served as the capital of the American Colonies from Sept. 30, 1777, through June 27, 1778. The tour will visit York City Hall for a 250th Anniversary bench dedication by President General John Dodd. Following the dedication, the group will travel to the newly opened York County Historical Society museum to view its extensive collection of York and southern Pennsylvania historical and cultural artifacts—including an original copy of the Articles of Confederation. The tour group will also visit the York Colonial Complex, which includes the reconstructed Colonial York County Courthouse (where the Second Continental Congress met), the Golden Plough Tavern (built in 1741), and the Gen. Horatio Gates House (built in 1751 by Joseph Chambers and occupied by Gen. Gates). Lunch will be provided, and a local historian will speak about “York Town (Pennsylvania)” during the American Revolution. On the return to Lancaster, the tour will make a short stop at the location of Camp Security, the last remaining undeveloped prisoner-of-war stockade from the Revolutionary War period, and will hear about its history and the archeological work being done there.
  • Valley Forge National Historical Park (Long Tour) – Visit the Continental Army’s 1777-1778 encampment site in the hills west of Philadelphia. The tour will begin at the newly renovated visitor center, where visitors can view the National Park Service’s new artifact exhibits, including never-before-seen artifacts from George C. Neumann and John F. Reed. Visitors reboard the buses and receive a guided tour of the encampment grounds, with several stops to view recreated log cabins and other important monuments. Lunch will be provided at the historic Philander Chase Knox Estate at Valley Forge National Historical Park before the tour group heads to the Washington Memorial Chapel for a carillon concert and 250th Anniversary bench dedication. The tour will return to the Lancaster Marriott after the bench dedication.
  • Kitchen Kettle Village (Short Tour) – Located in Intercourse, Pa., Kitchen Kettle Village is a quaint, walkable village with an operating canning kitchen and more than 40 shops selling locally-made food, wine, quilts and other items. Upon arrival, the tour group will sit down to a Pennsylvania Dutch-inspired lunch before having an opportunity to stroll through the village. Visitors should ensure they visit the canning kitchen, where more than 100 varieties of jams, jellies and relishes may be purchased (and they can all be sampled for free!). Following lunch and shopping, visitors will reboard the buses for an hour-long tour of the Amish countryside and a stop at a local Amish-owned business before returning to the hotel.
  • Strasburg (Short Tour) – All aboard! The Strasburg Railroad operates in historic Strasburg, Pa., along the Old Conestoga Road (present-day PA Route 741). By the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the tiny hamlet included a tavern and several log houses. Rapid growth in the late 18th century turned Strasburg into a commercial center for residents of the surrounding farmland, and in 1832, the railroad came through. A shortline, the Strasburg Railroad is America’s oldest continuously operating railroad.

    The tour will begin with lunch and a presentation on Strasburg’s rich history. Several tour group members will have the additional opportunity to take a private tour of the railroad’s shops and learn how the railroad maintains and operates steam engines more than 100 years old. (Shop Tours attendees must be at least 5 and wear closed-toe shoes.) The tour group will then take a 45-minute ride behind one of Strasburg Railroad’s three steam engines. The trail will highlight the agrarian splendor of Lancaster County. Visitors will have the opportunity to visit the railroad’s several gift shops before returning to the hotel.

In addition to our in-Congress tours, the Pennsylvania Society is planning two post-Congress tours. These day-long tours will offer the opportunity to learn more about the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 or provide an opportunity to visit Colonial Philadelphia. The Lancaster Marriott has extended the discounted room rate to account for these tours; both tours will begin and end at the hotel in Lancaster, and a minimum number of attendees is necessary for the tours to proceed.

  • The Philadelphia Campaign (Post-Congress Tour) – The tour group will travel from Lancaster to Chadd’s Ford, Pa., the site of the Sept. 11, 1777, Battle of Brandywine. Called the “Battle that Lost Philadelphia But Saved America” by author Michael C. Harris, visitors will learn about the largest battle of the American Revolution—where nearly 30,000 British, Hessian and American soldiers fought over an approximately 10-square-mile area. Following lunch, the tour will continue to the sites of the “Battle of the Clouds,” a Sept. 16, 1777, battle called off on account of rain (actually a nor’easter storm), and the Paoli Massacre, the Sept. 20, 1777, night attack on General Anthony Wayne’s Pennsylvania division by British Major General Charles “No Flint” Grey’s 1,200 light infantry, dragoons and Highlanders. Before returning to the hotel, the tour group will stop by Washington’s Headquarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park.
  • Colonial Philadelphia (Post-Congress Tour) – This tour will take visitors into downtown Philadelphia, where you will be able to see Independence Hall, Carpenters Hall (the site of where the First Continental Congress met between Sept. 5 and Oct. 26, 1774) and the Liberty Bell. The group will be able to tour the Museum of the American Revolution and the People of Independence exhibit in the portrait gallery in the Second Bank (a collection containing many works by Charles Wilson Peale). Lunch is on your own. Following a day in Philadelphia, the tour group will return to Lancaster.

The Pennsylvania Society looks forward to greeting compatriots and guests next summer as we say, “Guder Daag un Willkumm in Lancaster!”

Massachusetts Society, Post Office Box 890235, Weymouth, MA 02189-0004, (508) 229-1776
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