When looking for additional activities to do outdoor this year, I became interested in exploring Bucks County’s past and what many places look like today. I had become very fascinated with a postcard series that was published by the Arnold Brothers of Rushland in the early 1900s, and used their postcards as a guide to the 239 Bucks County locations that I visited.
Some of the sites are fairly familiar to people who travel throughout the area, while others are tucked away in places that most people would never see. I worked with members of the Washington Crossing Card Collectors Club to get scans of all of the postcards, and then I set to work researching the history of each place, exploring and taking pictures. Some highlights from my journey are seen below. An interactive map of all of the locations, along with the pictures taken in 2020, can be found here.
New Hope still looks similar today as it did in the early 1900s. The canal still runs through most of the borough, and it is a beautiful place to go hopping or walk along the Delaware River. The Logan House is now known as the Logan Inn, and contains a hotel and a restaurant and is undergoing an expansion.
The nearly 60-mile-long Delaware River Canal ended its journey here. While the canal closed down in 1931, it is now home to a state park that spans from Bristol to Easton. In 2017, Bristol was the winner of the Small Business Revolution Contest for its vibrant small business scene.
Ivyland is Bucks County’s smallest municipality at only 0.3 square miles. The Davenport Residence was originally constructed to be a hotel in time for the country’s centennial in 1876, but economic hardship prevented this from happening and it was instead turned into a residence. The store pictured below is still in use today and called the Ivyland Country Store.
The two buildings pictured below still contain businesses today. The Brick Hotel still operates under the same name and contains a restaurant called Rocco's At the Brick. The White Hall Hotel has been subdivided into many different businesses.
Ringing Rocks and High Falls
This park in Upper Black Eddy contains one of Bucks County’s three ringing rock fields as well as its highest waterfall. It’s a great place to spend a few hours wondering through the scenery.
The county seat of Bucks County is filled with numerous attractions to visit. The Bucks County Historical Society, housed in the Mercer Museum, looks different today with the concrete building constructed by Henry Mercer located next door. The Mercer Museum is one of the best places to learn about the history of Bucks County. Located right next door is the Michener Art Museum. The museum was constructed using pieces of the Bucks County Prison that was closed in the 1980s.
At one point, Bucks County was home to numerous one room schoolhouses, with many of these buildings lost to time or converted into residences. The eight-square schoolhouse in Wrightstown is still standing today, and looks very similar to olden days. Eight-sided schoolhouses were popular at the time of construction, as they allowed in the maximum amount of sunlight possible. Bucks County is also home to numerous Quaker meetinghouses. Early Bucks County was settled by various groups of Quakers, and their legacy lives on in the many meetinghouses that are still standing and in use.
The Narrows of the Delaware are located between Kintersville and Upper Black Eddy. The name comes from a narrow strip of land that contributed both a road and the Delaware Canal when it was constructed. Although this view is only accessible through private property today, a similar view can be found by following the Delaware Canal. This section of the canal offers beautiful views of the Delaware River and New Jersey.
The community of Point Pleasant was once a summer destination for vacationers looking to get away from Philadelphia or New York City. Today, the area is filled with bikers biking along the Delaware Canal, tubers and kayakers visiting Bucks County River Country, and motorcyclists taking a scenic drive along River Road. The Point Pleasant Inn is now home to the F.P. Kolbe Gift Store & Café, and a replaced aqueduct is still visible along the canal.
Located on the border of Wrightstown and Buckingham Townships, Wycombe is a quant village that was created when the railroad came through. This rail line opened in 1891 and connected Philadelphia to New Hope. As the line extended, villages were created nearby. Although the original rail line closed in the 1950s, today the New Hope Railroad operates a tourist railroad through the area.