Extreme rain and rising tides threaten Philly’s Revolutionary War-era Fort Mifflin

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Almost 250 years ago, in the fall of 1777, British troops began their occupation of Philadelphia. Soldiers under Gen. George Washington’s command fled to Valley Forge, where they endured a brutal winter.

It’s a familiar story. Less well known is the role played by hundreds of American soldiers who defended Fort Mifflin, a military installation on the Delaware River now caught between rising tides on one side and the busy runways of the Philadelphia International Airport on the other.

Like the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House and Independence Hall, Fort Mifflin played a pivotal role in our nation’s founding. But climate change now threatens its survival.

Fort Mifflin’s hospital, seen after rain on Jan. 29, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“Fort Mifflin was instrumental in forcing the war to go on and allowing Washington the time that he needed to achieve his victory,” said Fort Mifflin executive director Beth Beatty.

In the fall of 1777, soldiers at the fort helped delay British supply ships from getting North to the capital city. While about 250 American soldiers died or were wounded, they held the fort long enough to allow Washington and his troops to arrive at Valley Forge, where they trained and recouped for the battles ahead.

Now, Fort Mifflin is fighting a battle of its own.

  • February 6, 2024
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