Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Walk in the Park

Just a few days into the State of Emergency many Delawareans find themselves feeling trapped at home. Social distancing does not have to mean home confinement. With simple, common-sense precautions and a couple elbow bumps in place of hand shakes, it’s still safe to spend some time outside. In case you didn’t know, New Castle County parks are open and a great place to spend some time outside to get in a little exercise while maintaining good social distance. 

The Almost Forgotten History duo of Thomas Gears and Raymond Harrington took full advantage of this today and decided to do a little history sleuthing in Brandywine Springs Park, one of the crown jewels of the New Castle County park system.

A Peoples Railway trolley on the boardwalk at
Brandywine Springs in the parks heyday.
While we were walking through the park, taking pictures, and figuring out a little almost forgotten history, there were two things we noticed.

The first thing was just how amazing and open the park looks right now. The park has never looked better thanks to the hard work done by the park maintenance crew and the Friends of Brandywine Springs (FOBS) volunteers. The underbrush above the county sewer lines has been cleared and Lake Washington has been reclaimed. 

Lake Washington in Brandywine Springs Park

While we were there we ran into Mark Lawlor, one of the founders of FOBS, active park volunteer, and the author of two very popular books about Brandywine Springs. Lawlor was busy with his latest
The center board is made of
wood from the historic Council Oak.
project, installing two Adirondack chairs next to the Red Clay Creek.  He designed and built them from scratch with materials he purchased himself. The center board on the back of each chair is made with wood from the famous Council Oak. With the help of the New Castle County parks maintenance crew, Lawlor has built a new trail that takes you along the Red Clay Creek, past the ruins of the Kiamensi Spring Water Company, and back along the tail of Hyde Run.

Author and park volunteer Mark Lawlor shows off the
Adirondack chairs he designed, built, and installed.
After we parted ways with Lawlor, we noticed a second thing. The park was bustling with young families brought out by the fine weather. The park is big enough for hundreds of people to wander the trails and still maintain social distance. 

One of the many historic markers found throughout the park.
The trails are lined with historical markers that provide glimpses of the many attractions from when it was a famous amusement park. The markers have been installed by the Friends of Brandywine Springs, a group dedicated to creating a historical nature walk and sharing the history of the former amusement park that once attracted up to 30,000 visitors a day. One by one, we saw parents reading the information to their children and heard the kids ask with amazement the same questions we asked when we were younger. How did it all fit in here? Where did it go? Why is it gone and wouldn’t it be great if it was still here?

The markers make for an amazing self guided tour.

Ruins of the Kiamensi Spring Water Company can
be seen from the new trail along the Red Clay Creek.
So if you are feeling restless, head over to Brandywine Springs for some exercise and fresh air. You can walk on what was once the roadbed of the Peoples Railway trolley line, that on busy days, saw trolleys from Wilmington delivering park goers to the once-famous park every 3 minutes. You can walk along the new trail next to the Red Clay Creek where bald eagles have been spotted. If you just want to relax, you can sit on a hillside where legend says George Washington addressed his troops during the Revolutionary War at the base of the Council Oak. 

The Council Oak standing tall above Lake Washington. 
Exercise is good for the body and learning is good for the mind. If you are finding yourself tired of being confined, get out and take a "Walk in the Park."

Information about the Friends of Brandywine Springs can be found at:

Mark Lawlor's books about Brandywine Springs can be purchased at: 


  1. Great post as usual. I've noticed the same things at Branydwine Park in Wilmington. There are way more people using the park than normal which in itself is a good thing.

  2. I walked the park this past week and it was wonderful as usual!!! I walked the new path down by the creek and sat a while in the new chairs!! Such a peaceful site. Thank you!!
    Being a gardener, I especially want to thank whoever dug and divided the daffodils so that they will be even more spectacular for years to come!!! Great job!! Were there always daffodils in the park or did the Friends group plant them? Next year I have to get there to see the snowdrops blooming!!!

  3. I went to Krebs Jr High in Newport. When I was in 9th grade we had a class picnic to Brandywine Springs. What a Great Park. I remember how nice it was and went back a few times after that as an adult.


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