Located between New York and Philadelphia, during the Colonial days Bucks County was heavily traveled via the Old York Road, built in the early 18th century. The road started in Philadelphia and crossed the Delaware River at New Hope, continuing on through Hunterdon County and Middlesex on the way to Elizabeth, NJ. Naturally, stagecoach stops, taverns, and inns sprung up along its route, which is one reason there is such a huge number of stone houses along our roads.
New Hope is the most famous town in Bucks County. It was originally called Well’s Ferry, named after the first ferry operator on the Old York Road to New Jersey. It became a mill town in the late 1700s. When Benjamin Perry’s mill burned to the ground in 1790, he rebuilt more and called them “New Hope Mills”. Hence, the name was born. (Perry’s mansion is in the center of town.) Logan Inn, built in 1727, was originally called the Ferry Tavern. It’s the oldest continually-run inn in Bucks County and one of the five oldest in the United States. New Hope is also famous for the Bucks County Playhouse, built in 1939 from a converted 1790 gristmill. It has a long history of Broadway plays and has hosted such luminaries as Grace Kelly, George C. Scott, Liza Minnelli, William Shatner, Bob Fosse, Robert Redford, among a stunning list of celebrities.
For bicyclists, joggers, and walkers, the Delaware Canal is a state park with a towpath that runs all the way from Bristol to Easton. It was built in the mid-19th century to haul coal, iron ore, and other products from the Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia. Barges were towed by mules, and the canal was built with a system of locks to help control flooding. It meanders in and out alongside the river, through towns such as Washington Crossing, Point Pleasant, Lumberville, New Hope, and Riegelsville. Many homes back to the canal and are coveted real estate acquisitions.
Doylestown was named after William Doyle, proprietor of a public house licensed in 1745; it still stands at the intersection of Main and State streets. The town was selected as the county seat in 1820 and remains so today. One of its most famous residents was Henry Chapman Mercer, the famous archeologist, artifact collector, and tile-maker, who designed and constructed three of Doylestown’s most fascinating buildings. All three buildings are cast-in-place concrete structures. The Mercer Museum holds more than 40,000 artifacts from the Industrial Revolution. The Moravian Pottery & Tile Works is a living history museum that still creates handmade tiles used by Mercer at the turn of the last century; Bucks County residents often purchase these tiles for use in their homes, from counters to fireplace surrounds. The Fonthill Castle was Henry Mercer’s own home, with 44 rooms, over 200 windows, 18 fireplaces, and 10 bathrooms. Mercer tiles are embedded in the concrete all over the house. It, too, is open to the public.
For nature lovers, Bucks County has over twenty parks and wildlife preserves, including Lake Nockamixon, containing 5,286-acres of forests, hiking, camping cabins, golfing, fishing, and boat and canoe rentals on its 10 mile-long lake, as well as a marina. There are many boat ramps to the Delaware River, where people enjoy canoeing, kayaking, as well as tubing. In Point Pleasant you can go rafting as well, with Bucks County River Country.