First State National Historical Park: Brandywine Valley

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

First State National Historical Park➤

First State National Historic Park encompasses places and events related to the founding of the nation. Swedish, Dutch, and Finnish immigrants settled in Delaware (considered part of Pennsylvania in colonial times.) The settlers established their own legislative body in New Castle in 1704 and separated from Pennsylvania in 1776.

On December 7, 1787 state delegates met in Dover to ratify the US Constitution. This made Delaware the first state to ratify, hence the name of the park.

First State National Historical Park consists of six individual sites spread throughout the state of Delaware. The six sites are: Brandywine Valley, Fort Christina, Old Swedes Historic Site, New Castle Court House Museum, the Dover Green and the John Dickinson Plantation.

Brandywine Valley➤

At 1100 acres, Brandywine Valley is the largest section of First State National Park. Quaker industrialist and conservationist William Poole Bancroft purchased the land in the early 1900s. He sought to preserve as much land as possible along the Brandywine River in its scenic and rural state.

The area includes forests and rolling farmsteads that were once settled by the Quakers who followed Penn to America. The tract is next to Delaware’s Brandywine Creek State Park.

We parked in the Smith Bridge parking lot to explore this unit. The Smith Bridge dates back to 1839 and is Delaware’s longest covered bridge. Arsonists burned down the original bridge in 1961, but it was reconstructed in 2002. As I photographed the bridge, a horse-drawn wagon drove through it creating a scene from the past.

The bridge fords the Brandywine River. We walked briefly to the water’s edge where people fished, sunbathed and enjoyed the summer day.

First State Posts➤

Location: Smithbridge Rd, Wilmington, Delaware
Designation: National Historical Park
Date designated/established: March 25, 2013
Date of my visit: July 28, 202

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