Reenactors of General George Washington and his enslaved valet, Billy Lee, will ride on horseback along Canal Road in the Griggstown section of Franklin Township on Sunday, August 27, almost 242 years to the day after the American and French troops passed through the Millstone Valley on their way to win American independence at the Siege of Yorktown, in Virginia.
In addition, four reenactors of the 4th Regiment Continental Light Dragoons will ride on horseback alongside Washington and Lee.
Canal Road will be closed to motorized vehicles between the Griggstown Causeway and Route 518 for Franklin’s summertime “Walk and Roll” event that encourages safe walking and bicycle riding along a 5-mile stretch of the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway. The road closure for the Walk and Roll event will run from 10 AM to 4 PM, while the reenactors are expected to ride between 11 and 2 PM.
The reenactors include John Koopman of Connecticut and Quinton Castle of Virginia. Both have reenacted their roles before, and Koopman has numerous screen credits as Washington, including “Washington and the Pursuit of Religious Freedom,” produced by George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The reenactors were arranged by the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition with a grant from the National Park Service’s Washington Rochambeau National Historic Trail, a 700-mile trail from New England to Virginia that passes over Canal Road in Franklin Township and River Road in Montgomery and Hillsborough Townships.
“Thousands of American and French troops passed through Franklin Township in 1781 on their way to win American independence in 1781,” said Brad Fay, a Griggstown resident who serves on the board of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association, which commemorates the long march to independence. “We encourage people to come out to meet the reenactors, learn the history, and enjoy Franklin’s Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway, including its many historic homes and canal vistas.”
The Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway operates a Visitor Center in the old Bridgetender’s House at 2 Griggstown Causeway in Franklin. It’s normally open from 1 to 4 PM on weekends from May to October. During the road closure on August 27, Franklin Township Police will permit access by cars at reduced speed for people who live on that stretch of Canal Road.
PARKING ADVICE: Parking is available near the reenactor activity along the Griggstown Causeway in the D&R Canal State Park, or in the back lot of the Griggstown Reformed Church at 1065 Canal Road, just north of the road closure, or in the fields across from the church (assuming the ground is dry). Parking is also available in the D&R Canal State Park near Route 518 in Rocky Hill, about 5 miles south of where most reenactor events will occur.