by Hans DePold, town historian
(Published in the Bolton Community News, October 2003)
Our goal since 2000 has been the creation of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) National Historic Trail. It puts Bolton on a historic road connecting with Newport, Boston, Philadelphia, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, Virginia, where the American army and the combined French army and French navy defeated the British in the last major battle of the American Revolution.
We in Bolton started this proposal and you may recall that state Rep. Pamela Sawyer introduced the legislation in 1996 for the first state study. Then in 2000, Congressman John Larson met with us at the Bolton Senior Center and volunteered to champion the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Heritage Act of 2000, Public Law 106-473. The town of Bolton purchased the Fifth French Encampment (the Rose Farm) that same year. Bolton's support of the W3R all these years is an act of faith, helping to forge this line of events, and places us into a national historic trail that would make the patriots proud of Bolton.
The National Park Service (NPS) just declared the route to be nationally significant. You can read the entire 55-page report at: https://web.archive.org/web/20170223062239/https://www.nps.gov/revwar/pdf/Significance%20Report-Screen.pdf. The NPS said the Route is of national significance as a domestic cross-cultural experience since it is:
- an indispensable component of the campaign of 1781: it is the route that took the combined Franco-American armies to victory
- a watershed in the development of an American identity: in 1781-82, the 13 colonies took a gigantic step toward becoming a nation
- a prime illustration of the American Revolution as a truly national effort.
Next February we await the NPS environmental impact statement and then later a final report so that Congress can designate it a National Historic Trail in 2005, just in time for the 225th anniversary (in 2006) of the Washington-Rochambeau march through Bolton to Yorktown.
The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (CTSSAR) recently proposed installing a Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route monument in Bolton. The Bolton Historical Society has recommended the town green for the site. CTSSAR President Russell Wirtella came to Bolton on September 12 to describe the offer. The monument would have a historical map of Bolton describing the encampment areas used by American and French armies during the Revolution. The selectmen are now reviewing the proposal. For more see: https://web.archive.org/web/20060617044946/www.ctssar.org/revroad/contents.htm.