Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

A Visit to Historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania

by Suzanne Fluhr on March 25, 2019 · 19 comments

Emanuel Leutze_1851 painting of Washington crossing the Delaware

When Mr. Excitement and I had the chance for a two day getaway in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, I immediately knew I wanted to build our visit around exploring historic sites north of Philadelphia.

It has been many a number of years now since I was a college history major, but I’ve continued to be drawn to the subject. Maybe that’s because I grew up and live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We claim to have the “most historic square mile” in the United States no matter what they say in Boston. We even live on Rittenhouse Square, a city park included in founder William Penn’s 1683 plan for Philadelphia, his “greene country towne”.

After spending the night in Pipersville in an 18th century Bucks County farmhouse, now the Galvanized America Inn and Gallery, we set off to make our way back to Philadelphia along the Delaware River with stops at Washington Crossing Historic Park and Pennsbury Manor. However, before heading back to 18th and 17th century Bucks County, we took the innkeeper’s suggestion and made a nature/ geology stop at Ringing Rocks County Park.

Ringing Rocks County Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Despite putting the official park address into Google maps, it wasn’t easy to find the entrance to the Ringing Rocks County Park. However, persistence paid off and with only a little bit of marital discord, Mr. Excitement and I finally found the park entrance .

We pulled into the small parking lot and located the beginning of a loop trail that would take us to the boulder field containing the “ringing rocks”. Apparently, many of these rocks make a characteristic ringing sound when struck with a hammer. I say “apparently” because we must have missed the memo about needing to bring a hammer with which to strike the rocks. A couple we met in the parking lot told us we would find a hammer hanging on a tree that we could use to “ring” the rocks. Somehow, the hammer tree eluded us, but we still enjoyed our half hour hike walk around the forested loop trail marked by white blazes.

Boulder field at RInging Rocks County Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

With apologies to Peter, Paul and Mary, “if I had a hammer” we would have heard these ringing boulders.

Even without a hammer, the Ringing Rocks boulder field is an interesting geologic feature. I fulfilled my college science requirement by taking Geology 101 and 102 which helped me kind of understand a report by the Pennsylvania Geological Survey about the ringing rocks — something about intruding magma, faulting and folding, weathering, and “periglacial” conditions over a period of 230 million years.

The Ringing Rocks loop trail also passes by Bucks County’s largest waterfall. Having said that, I must add that it seems waterfalls aren’t really Bucks County’s “thing”. During our visit, the waterfall was more like a water trickle, but a sustained rainy period considerably augments the flow — or so I’ve read.

Ringing Rocks County Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania waterfall

The Ringing Rocks County Park waterfall wasn’t exactly gushing during our visit, but it was still a pretty sylvan scene.

If you go to Ringing Rocks County Park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania:

Address: Ringing Rocks Park; Ringing Rocks Road, Upper Black Eddy, PA  18972, but you will probably be better served by using the geographical map coordinates for the parking lot:
latitude: 40.56011, longitude: -75.12878  Open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Accessibility: The loop trail is not paved and has rocks and tree roots, but it is not difficult for someone with “normal” mobility. The trail would not be suitable for anyone in a wheelchair or who is unsteady on their feet.

Remember to BYOH (bring your own hammer), so you can make the rocks ring!

Washington Crossing Historic Landmark Area in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and New Jersey

It was a dark and stormy night…..”

On Christmas night of 1776, this was not just the hackneyed beginning of a poorly written tale. It really was a dark, stormy and bitter cold night along the Delaware River on both the New Jersey and Bucks County, Pennsylvania sides.

Although the 13 American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain during a hot and humid Philadelphia July in 1776, Britain’s King George III was determined to crush what he considered a colonial rebellion.

By December of 1776, the Revolutionary War was not going well for the Americans. The British captured New York City and harried General Washington’s retreating Continental Army through New Jersey. Washington’s troops managed to escape across the Delaware River into Bucks County, Pennsylvania, ahead of pursuing British regulars and Hessian mercenary troops.

During their retreat, the Americans commandeered or destroyed every boat they could find to keep the British forces on the New Jersey side of the Delaware. The British then returned to New York, planning to spend the winter in garrison there. They left outposts of Hessian soldiers in New Jersey to prevent an American counterattack against New York City, but they believed the Continental Army would also stand down during the winter.

In its cold encampment around McConkey’s Ferry on the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, side of the Delaware River, the Continental Army was dwindling in size and morale as Washington lost soldiers to desertion and the end of enlistment terms. However, in a bold surprise move, Washington decided to have his army recross the ice choked Delaware River during a winter storm on Christmas night. After a forced 10 mile march through snow and ice, the Americans surprised the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey, securing its surrender. Although the Revolutionary War dragged on until the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783, historians see this victory as an inflection point towards the eventual American victory in the armed struggle for independence.

Emanuel Leutze_1851 painting of Washington crossing the Delaware

Emanuel Leutze’s famous 1851 painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain).

Today, there are Washington Crossing State Parks on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the Delaware River. Together, they form the federal Washington Crossing National Historic Landmark area.

Because of a road detour, we ended up visiting the Washington Crossing State Park on the New Jersey side of the river where we saw a film about the famous event and its historical context. Each state park has a visitors’ center with educational displays and possibilities to tour local historic buildings, along with opportunities to enjoy the riverside outdoors.

If you plan to visit the Washington Crossing National Historic Landmark Area, you should check the websites of both Washington Crossing State Park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and Washington Crossing State Park in New Jersey for up to date information.

Pennsbury Manor, William Penn’s Country Estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania

(Disclosure: Our fee to visit Pennsbury Manor was waived in exchange for a review; however, no promise of a favorable review was requested nor given.)

My first visit to Pennsbury Manor was as a 4th grader when we studied Pennsylvania history. A mere 56 years later, I made my second visit.

Meet William Penn: Pennsylvania’s Founder

William Penn at 22 portrait

In this 1666 oil painting, possibly by Sir Peter Lely, 22 year old William Penn is wearing a suit of armor before his conversion to Quakerism.

In 17th century Britain, William Penn, was considered a religious “noncomformist” for his Quaker religion and preaching. He spent time in an English prison for his beliefs.

Notwithstanding his religious dissidence, Penn was the son of an English Royalist admiral who helped finance the Royal British Navy. Thus, the British King Charles II, owed Admiral Penn a great deal of money. This debt passed to William Penn upon Admiral Penn’s death.

William Penn offered cash strapped King Charles II a “win win” proposition. The King was happy to accede to his request that the King repay his debt by giving Penn a large tract of land in British North America where he would establish a colony for religious nonconformists. Thus, William Penn became the proprietor of Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods), named in honor of his father, Admiral Penn.

Penn arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682, setting its capital a little over 100 miles up the navigable Delaware River at a town he called Philadelphia (the City of Brotherly Love), an area previously settled by the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, Swedes and the Dutch.

Our Visit to Pennsbury Manor

Pennsbury, William Penn's country estate

The manor house William Penn had built for him and his family in 1683 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Archaeologists determined that the front of the house was brick and the rear portion made of wood.

Transportation was difficult in late 17th century Pennsylvania, but this did not keep Penn from venturing beyond his City of Brotherly Love. By 1683, construction of his “summer manor”, Pennsbury, was well underway 25 miles up river, north of Philadelphia, in beautiful Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Penn named Bucks County after Buckinghamshire, his home county in England.

The manor house was built fronting the Delaware River, emphasizing the importance of the waterways in 17th century transportation. There is a replica on site of one of the boats William Penn would have used to travel between Philadelphia and Pennsbury.

Pennsbury, William Penn's country estate

The front of Pennsbury Manor faced the Delaware River, a transportation waterway for William Penn in 17th century Pennsylvania.

Penn only spent a total of four years in his Pennsylvania. By the mid-1800s, only traces of  his Pennsbury manor and estate remained. However, archaeologists discovered the foundation of the manor house and some outbuildings in the early 1930s. Based on contemporaneous descriptions of the house and its contents, Pennsbury Manor was reconstructed between 1938 and 1940 with funding by the Works Progress Administration, the WPA, a Depression era economy stimulation program.

Today, visitors to Pennsbury view a video about William Penn and Pennsbury in the Visitors’ Center and can walk through an award winning museum exhibit, William Penn: Seed of a Nation. The exhibit provides well curated historical context about William Penn and his colony, Pennsylvania. Having learned that Quakers eventually led the Abolitionist Movement in the United States, I admit I was disappointed to learn William Penn owned several slaves at Pennsbury.

We also joined a small group for a guided tour of the reconstructed manor and some of the dependency buildings such as the kitchen and laundry.  As much as possible, the manor has been fitted with artifacts such as tiles and ironwork found during excavation of the foundation. It is furnished with 17th century antique furniture and reproductions based on detailed 1687 and 1701 inventories of the home. The tour takes about an hour and a half.

Sheep at Pennsbury Manor, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

In Penn’s time, Pennsbury was a working farm. Some aspects of the farm are recreated at Pennsbury.

Seventeenth century Pennsbury was essentially a subsistence farm. Today’s Pennsbury occupies 43 acres, a little more than was cleared in Penn’s time. Check the schedule to plan your visit to Pennsbury when artisans in period dress use historically accurate methods to demonstrate life processes from William Penn’s time.

If you go to Pennsbury Manor:

Location:

Pennsbury Memorial Road
Morrisville, PA 19067

By car, Pennsbury Manor is a little over 30 miles north of Center City Philadelphia, a drive that should take between 40 minutes to an hour. It is between 71 and 90 miles miles from Manhattan in New York City, depending on which route you take.

Check the Pennsbury Manor website for up to date opening times, admission fees, tour times, and special events.

Accessibility: I could not find information about handicapped accessibility on the official Pennsbury Manor website; however, according to the Visit PA website, Pennsbury is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. Based on our visit, I don’t believe it would be possible for people who cannot navigate stairs to visit the second floor of the Manor which is part of the tour

Visit Bucks County is the county’s official tourism site. There you’ll find more additional timely information about what to do, and places to eat and sleep in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The following are “affiliate” links. If you purchase one of these books from here on Amazon, Boomeresque will earn a very tiny small commission that as far as I can tell will never add up to more than I spend to keep this site up and running. If you click on the link, you will also see Kindle prices.

Learn more about George Washington. (I’m thinking that cutting down the cherry tree thing is apocryphyl.) This is Ron Chernow’s biography of George Washington. Excellent reviews. On my “Books To Read” list:

The latest biography of William Penn. Excellent reviews. I just bought it!

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Do you ever let history guide your travels?

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Doreen Pendgracs March 25, 2019 at 5:52 pm

Recent travels have certainly made me aware of what a fascinating state PA is. Thx for introducing us to Bucks County.

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Linda Fairbairn March 25, 2019 at 10:55 pm

What a joy seeing the history of your country!
Having been brought up in England where history is everywhere and not given a second glance, I now live in Australia whose history since European intervention is brief and where tales of the traditional owners is rarely shared outside of their circles as their ancient history is passed down verbally, visually through paintings and dance – Quite a different form of record keeping 🙂

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 26, 2019 at 1:52 am

I have visited Australia and I agree, post colonial Oz seems young, even younger than the USA feels. I’m looking forward to a return trip this year, hopefully in October.

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Steve Albelda March 26, 2019 at 8:28 am

Enjoyed the review. My favorite was “BYOH”

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Julie McCool March 26, 2019 at 9:02 am

Bucks County PA has been on my list of places to visit and your article has spurred me to make travel plans. Since we live in Northern VA, Pennsylvania is a favorite getaway destination for us. I’m always ready to learn new George Washington history and Pennsbury Manor looks interesting too. Thanks for the tips!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 26, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Plenty of history here in Pennsylvania. I’m still learning and walking in Ben Franklin’s footsteps—goosebumps.

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Lori March 26, 2019 at 12:09 pm

My hubby is from Allentown, PA and we have over the years visited many of these sights. But am glad to see that we haven’t gotten to all of them. Great article on this area of PA.

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Debbra Dunning Brouillette March 26, 2019 at 6:18 pm

Can you believe that I’ve only visited Philadelphia in Pennsylvania? There is so much more to see and I would especially enjoy visiting all the sites related to William Penn.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 27, 2019 at 12:53 am

You should definitely plan a return trip to Philly, and make some time to visit the surrounding counties (Bucks County, Montgomery and Delaware Counties). There are many beautiful places and significant American history sites all around.

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Karen Warren March 28, 2019 at 4:55 am

I was in Pennsylvania last year and couldn’t believe how much history there was to see. But I didn’t get to Bucks County – a pity because I’d have loved to visit William Penn’s house.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 29, 2019 at 8:30 pm

I guess you’ll just have to visit Pennsylvania again. We’ll leave the lights on for you in Bucks County.

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Sue Reddel March 29, 2019 at 9:06 am

I wish we had more time to visit Pennsylvania when we visit next month. Bucks County sounds like a place we’d really enjoy exploring.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 29, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Pennsylvania is a big state. There’s lots to see just in Philadelphia and environs. Then there’s the rest of the state. It’s 327 miles to Pittsburgh in the western part of the state.

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Carole Terwilliger Meyers March 30, 2019 at 5:24 pm

Though I’ve traveled through Bucks County, I haven’t visited the places you describe. I’d love to go back and explore further–especially Pennsbury Manor.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 30, 2019 at 5:42 pm

I learned a lot at Pennsbury Manor. Now I’m reading a new biography of William Penn.

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alison abbott April 1, 2019 at 7:39 pm

My parents had friends in New Hope and although I visited a LONG time ago, I have memories of the beauty and history that seemed such an integral part of everything I saw. When I turn the “slide show” to a visual, I can remember gleaming, wide planked floors that probably were at least partially responsible for my love of renovating old homes.

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jim corbett May 25, 2019 at 4:53 am

Historical places are always the one that one can explore. I never been in Pennsylvania, but after reading your article I am really looking forward to check it out. If you can suggest some other locations, foods and activities, it will gonna make my journey more easy and flexible.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 25, 2019 at 2:20 pm

Jim, start in Philadelphia. Admittedly, I’m a little biased. It’s my home town. To find all the Philadelphia content on Boomeresque, put Philadelphia in the search box. Happy exploring.

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