AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #75a -- Washington, DC to Boston, Massachusetts
Part 3 - Wilmington to Trenton
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Trenton to New York

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108.5 On the left (northbound), notice the large “Delaware Marine Mammals” Whaling Wall painting on the side of the building at 117 N. Market Street, painted by marine artist Robert Wyland, dedicated in 1993, located immediately west of the WILMINGTON station, 100 S. French Street.  Elevation approximately 20 ft.  Wilmington is the largest city in Delaware, and is the county seat of New Castle County.  Wilmington was built on the site of Fort Christina, named after the queen of Sweden, and was the first Swedish settlement in North America.  The Swedes, under Peter Minuit, arrived here in 1638.  Fort Christina served as the headquarters for the colony of New Sweden, which consisted of, for the most part, the lower Delaware River region (parts of present-day Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey), but few colonists settled there.  One of the settlers was Dr. Timothy Stidham, the first physician in Delaware.  British colonization began 1n 1634, after a series of wars between the Dutch and the English, which were greatly influenced by Quaker leader William Penn.  A charter was granted in 1739 by Britain’s King George II.  The newly chartered community was named Wilmington, after Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington.

         In 1777, after the nearby Battle of Brandywine, the town was occupied by the British until 1778.  Then, in 1800, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, a French Huguenot, emigrated to the United States, and originally intended to develop a Utopian colony here.  Since Du Pont was knowledgeable in the manufacture of gunpowder, by 1802, he had begun making the explosives in a mill on the Brandywine River north of Brandywine Village and just outside the town of Wilmington.  The DuPont company became a major supplier to the U.S. military.

          During the Civil War, Delaware was a border state, and was supporting both the Union and the Confederate causes, and supplying both sides with ships, railroad cars, Du Pont gunpowder, and other supplies. By 1868, after the end of the War, Wilmington was a leader in production of ironclad ships.  The city’s economy continued to grow through the remainder of the 19th Century and during the 20th Century.  In 1968, there were major race riots in the city following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The mayor of Wilmington at that time deployed the National Guard to Wilmington, where they stayed until the mayor’s term of office ended in January, 1969, thus making that occupation the longest occupation of an American city by state forces in the nation's history.  In recent years, Wilmington has been ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the Nation for crime.

          Wilmington hosts the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival each summer, as well as the annual People’s Festival, a tribute to reggae star Bob Marley.  Each August, the 3-day Riverfront Blues Festival also takes place here.  Wilmington is also the home of the Brandywine River Museum, the Delaware Art Museum, the Hagley Museum, which contains the original Du Pont mills, estate, and gardens, and the Eleutherian Mills, Rodney Square, the Nemours Mansion and Gardens, Rockwood Museum, the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, and several other notable attractions.

109.5 Cross Brandywine Creek.  The body of water on the right (northbound) is the Christina River, into which Brandywine Creek flows, a short distance around the bend in the creek which is visible from the railroad bridge.

111.5 Pass beneath Interstate 495.  Now that we are out of the urbanized part of Wilmington, you may observe exposures of banded gneiss, a metamorphic rock from the Wilmington Complex, another assemblage of very old island arc deposits.  The Wilmington Complex is correlative with the Baltimore Mafic Complex (see MP 36 above), and is composed of metavolcanic rocks (metamorphosed volcanic rocks which were formerly lava flows), metaplutonic rocks (which were formerly intrusive magmatic rocks), and undeformed igneous intrusive rocks of varying composition).  These rocks are a part of the Piedmont Province.

112-113 On the right (northbound), along the wide, tidal Delaware River, is Fox Point State Park.  The park opened in 1995, and was built upon a former hazardous waste landfill used by the Pennsylvania Railroad when the railroad line you are traveling on was built.  The park was created by S. Marsten Fox, an activist who began in 1958 to stop the railroad from building additional industrial land.  He sought to have the land turned over to New Castle County for public use, which finally took place in the late 1970’s.  In 1990, the State took over the land and began remediation of the former hazardous waste landfill.  The park now offers recreational opportunities on biking and pedestrian trails with picnic facilities, a playground, and volleyball and horseshoes facilities.

114    The dense development on the left (northbound) is underlain by the Silurian-aged Arden Granite, an intrusive igneous rock which was emplaced after the ancient island arc terrane collided with the continental terrane of the Piedmont.  These plutons are located on the edge of the Wilmington Complex.

115-116 Pass through Claymont, named after Claymont Court in Charles Town, West Virginia, the family plantation of Rev. Clemson, Pastor of the Episcopal Church in 1856.  The area has been settled since at least 1200 A.D.  The area was originally an agricultural community, but by the mid-19th Century, it had become a suburban resort area for wealthy Philadelphians.  By the early 20th Century, it became an industrial working community.

116    Interstate 495 leaves the railroad on the left (northbound) at this point.

117   Cross Naamans Creek, and Enter DELAWARE County, PENNSYLVANIA, and the borough of Marcus Hook.  Delaware County, sometimes known as “Delco,” was named after the Delaware River, its southeastern boundary.  The county and river were named in honor of Thomas West, 12th Baron de la Warr, the fist Governor of Virginia.  The area of present Delaware County was explored in 1609 by Henry Hudson.  For many years thereafter, the area was claimed by the Swedes, the Dutch, and the English.  After the Dutch were defeated, King Charles II granted the Pennsylvania colony to William Penn.  The Delaware County seat is Media.

         Marcus Hook became a trade settlement in New Sweden the 1640’s.  In 1656, after the Dutch conquest, it was renamed “Marrites Hook,” possibly named after a Lenape Indian chief who lived in the area.  “Hook” is a corruption of the Dutch word hoek, meaning a corner, point, or spit of land.  In 1682, the English tried unsuccessfully to change the name of the borough to Chichester.

         Marcus Hook today is an industrial town, whose dominant industry, as can be seen as we pass through town, is petroleum refining, The bedrock exposed to the north of the railroad (left if northbound) consists of metamorphic rocks of the Precambrian- to Lower Paleozoic-aged Wissahickon Formation, and other minerals of the Piedmont Province.

119-122 Pass through the city of Chester, named after the English city of Chester by William Penn, who arrived here in 1682, aboard the ship Welcome.  Prior to Penn’s visit, the area was settled by Swedes, who called the town Finlandia, then later Upland.  In 1641, they built Fort Mecoponaca here, Mecoponaca being the Indian name for the settlement.  Chester was originally the county seat of Chester County; however, in 1789, with the creation of Delaware County, Chester became the first county seat of Delaware County, but the county seat was moved to Media in 1851. On February 14, 1865, Chester was incorporated as a city.

          During the Civil War, Chester’s naval shipyard supplied the Union forces with ships and supplies.  Today, Chester is an industrial and residential suburban community to Philadelphia.  Chester claims to be the “birthplace of the hoagie sandwich.”  It is also known as the “Cradle of Rock & Roll,” since Bill Haley & the Comets first performed in Chester, and maintained their headquarters here. Several buildings in Chester are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Chester is also the home of Widener University, formerly the Pennsylvania Military College, founded in 1821 as a prep school for boys, now a private co-educational university.

121.5 Cross Ridley Creek and pass through the borough of Eddystone, originally called Tequirassy by early Native Americans.  Eddystone was part of New Sweden, and the owner of the land, Olof Stille, arrived here in 1641.  The borough of Eddystone was formed around the Eddystone Print Works, established by William Simpson & Sons in October 1873.  Eddystone was incorporated on December 7, 1888.  Eddystone is a former home of actress Jennifer Aniston.  Today Eddystone is an industrial suburb of Philadelphia.

124   Pass beneath Interstate 95.

124-125.5 Pass through the borough of Ridley Park, named after a place in Cheshire, England.  Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by the Lenape Indians.  One of their well-used footpaths is today the same alignment as Chester Pike, which was developed by William Penn and renamed the Queen’s Highway.

         The city was founded in 1871 by Isaac Hinckley, the President of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, & Baltimore Railroad.

         The 2012 movie Silver Linings Playbook takes place in and around Ridley Park, which is credited at the end of the film.

127   Pass through borough of Glenolden, birthplace of former Survivor contestant Stephenie LaGrossa.

128    Pass through Sharon Hill.

129    On the left is the borough of Darby, and on the right the borough of Colwyn.  Darby is named after the English city of Derby, and was settled in 1654 by Quakers.  The borough was incorporated on May 3, 1853.  Darby was the birthplace of comedian/actor W.C. Fields.

129.5 Cross Cobbs Creek and enter PHILADELPHIA County, which encompasses the entire city of Philadelphia.  The county was one of the three original counties in Pennsylvania created by William Penn in 1682. The other 2 original counties are Chester County (see MP 119  above) and Bucks County (see MP 149 below).  Philadelphia County is the most populous county in the state, and the City of Philadelphia is the county seat.  William Penn wanted Philadelphia, meaning "brotherly love", to be a place where religious tolerance and the freedom to worship were ensured.  Philadelphia's name is shared with the ancient Asia Minor city spared in the Book of Revelation in the Bible.  It was William Penn's prayer, as a Quaker, that his "Holy Experiment" would be found blameless at the Last Judgment.  See MP 134 below for more info on the City of Philadelphia.

132.5 On the right (northbound) is our first view of the Schuylkill River (pronounced SKOOL-kill or SKOO-k’l), whose name in Dutch means “Hidden stream,” so named since the early Dutch explorers missed the mouth of the river and passed it at first. The river flows into the Delaware River in the southeastern part of Philadelphia.

133    On the left (northbound) is the University of Pennsylvania, which was founded by Benjamin Franklin.  The University began as a private academy built for traveling evangelist George Whitefield,   In 1749, Franklin wanted to build a school which was intended to educate all future generations, not just the clergy.  Then, on August 13, 1751, the Academy of Philadelphia took its first students.  In 1755, the school became the College of Philadelphia, and  in 1791, the State Legislature chartered the school as the University of Pennsylvania.

          Notable alumni of the University are William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States, famous gunslinger Henry “Doc” Holliday, American poet Ezra Pound, the 45th United States President Donald Trump, economist/investor Warren Buffett, and former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania).

134.5 PHILADELPHIA 30th Street Station, 2955 Market Street.  Elevation approximately 15.  All AMTRAK trains which pass through this station make a stop here. More AMTRAK trains stop at this station than at any other station in the system, including New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Philadelphia was established as the “Great Towne” of founder William Penn, and the name of the city is Greek for “brotherly love.” The name was likely suggested by the Lydian city of Philadelphia, the seat of one of the seven early Christian churches.

         The first settlers of the Philadelphia area were Lenape, or Delaware, Indians.  The first Europeans arrived in the 17th Century, largely from the Netherlands.  The Pennsylvania Colony was chartered by William Penn, a Quaker, in 1681, as a grant from King Charles II of England for a debt the Crown had with Penn’s father.  Penn had been on good terms with the Lenape Indians, and wanted his new colony to be free of religious persecution.  In 1701, Penn issued the Charter of 1701, which made Philadelphia a city.  By the 1750’s, Philadelphia became the biggest city in the British Colonies, and was the seat of government of the Colonies .  One of the leading citizens of the time was Benjamin Franklin, who helped improve city services and began new ones. The Declaration of Independence was signed here as well as the United States Constitution.  Philadelphia was the U.S. capital from 1790 to 1800, while the Federal City was under construction in Washington, DC. 

         Philadelphia today is a modern and diverse city, and is an educational and economic hub of the region, and is home to at least 7 Fortune 500 companies.  The city is known for its arts, culture, and history, attracting over 39 million domestic tourists in 2013. Philadelphia has more outdoor sculptures and murals than any other American city.  It contains 67 National Historical Landmarks, as well as the first library, hospital, medical school, zoo, capitol building, and stock exchange in the nation.  It is the only World Heritage City in the United States.  It is home of the University of Pennsylvania (see MP 133 above), as well as the African American Museum, the American Swedish Historical Museum, the Atwater Kent Museum, the Betsy Ross House, the Civil War Library and Museum, the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, Fairmount Park, Independence National Historical Park, and many other attractions.

         Philadelphia was the home of painter Andrew Wyeth, actors Lionel, Joan, and Ethel Barrymore, entertainer Joey Bishop, Dick Clark, host of the 1952-1989 television show “American Bandstand” (which was produced in Philadelphia), actress Imogene Coca, comedian Bill Cosby, actors Broderick Crawford, Tina Fey, Michael Landon, and Blythe Danner, author Louisa May Alcott, CBS news journalist Ed Bradley, and many others.

          As we depart Philadelphia, we will be traveling in reverse between here and New York City.

135.5-136 Pass the Philadelphia Zoo on the right (northbound).  If you look carefully, you may get a glance at some of the inhabitants of the zoo, or you may catch the zoo train as it makes its rounds in the zoo.  The zoo was the first zoo in the United States, and was chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on March 21, 1859, but its opening was delayed by the American Civil War.  It finally opened on July 1, 1874, with approximately 1000 animals.  Today the zoo covers 42 acres, and is home to 1300 animals, many of which are rare and endangered.

         In the early morning of December 24, 1995, a fire in the World of Primates building killed 23 animals, including a family group of six lowland gorillas, a family group of three orangutans, four white-handed gibbons, and ten lemurs.  All the animals were endangered species.  They died in their sleep from smoke inhalation (carbon monoxide poisoning); none were burned.

136   Cross the Schuylkill River.  On the right (eastbound) is an excellent view of the downtown Philadelphia sky-line.

137   As we pass through North Philadelphia, the land surface is underlain by alluvial and terrace deposits of the Tertiary-aged Pensauken and Bridgeton Formations.

138.5 NORTH PHILADELPHIA AMTRAK/SEPTA station, 2900 N. Broad Street, in the Glenwood area of North Philadelphia. Elevation approximately 120 ft.  This station serves AMTRAK’s Keystone trains only.  At one time, however, the Broadway Ltd stopped at North Philadelphia as the Philadelphia area station.  The Broadway Ltd no longer operates.

141   Pass through the Juniata neighborhood of Philadelphia, which is primarily a middle-class Hispanic neighborhood.  It is also known as Juniata Park, and was primarily farmland before the 1920’s, at which time the first row houses were built here.

142   Cross Frankford Creek and pass through the neighborhood of Frankford.  This community is named after the Frankfurt Company, which was organized to promote the colony of German Americans in Philadelphia.  Frankford was established as a village in 1682, then was incorporated as a borough on March 2, 1800.  Frankford has historically been a manufacturing area, and started out as the site of several gristmills.  Frankford is the home of the Frankford Arsenal, a former U.S. Army ammunition plant.

143.5 Pass beneath Highway 1009 and pass through Bridesburg, a predominantly German and Irish neighbor-hood of Philadelphia.  Bridesburg was incorporated as a borough on April 1, 1848, and was originally known as Kirkbridesburg, named after Joseph Kirkbride, who built and operated a ferry across the Delaware River to New Jersey, then in 1811, built a toll bridge.  Eventually, the villagers decided that the name was too long, so they shortened it to Bridesburg, then in 1854, the borough was annexed to Philadelphia.

144   Pass through Wissinoming, another Philadelphia neighborhood, best known as the home of locomotive builder Matthias W. Baldwin.

145-146 Pass through Tacony, an Irish American and Italian American neighborhood of Philadelphia.  The name came from the Lenape Indian word Tekony, which means “wilderness.”  In 1679, the land was purchased by the Swede Hans Keen.  The predecessor of the Pennsylvania Railroad came through in 1846, and in 1854, the City of Philadelphia consolidated the surrounding county into the city and Tacony became one of its neighborhoods.

146.5 Pass through Holmesburg and cross Pennypack Creek.  Holmesburg was named after John Holme, an early settler.  The neighborhood was founded by runaway slaves during the American Civil War.  The Philadelphia Prison System is located in Holmesburg.  It includes the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the Detention Center, the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, the House of Correction, Riverside Correctional Facility and The Alternative and Special Detention Unit.  Curran-Fromhold replaced Holmesburg Prison, which was used from 1896 until 1995.  Holmesburg Prison was recently reopened, and is visible on the left (northbound)

          The highway adjacent to the railroad on the right (northbound) is Interstate 95.

148    Pass beneath Interstate 95, and pass through Torresdale, the last neighborhood we will be traveling through in Philadelphia.  It was originally called Torrisdale, named after Charles Mc Alister, Jr.’s ancestral home in Scotland.

          William Penn’s surveyor Thomas Holme (no relation to John Holm, referenced above at MP 146.5) had chosen this as the original site of Philadelphia, but the final site ended up being further south.

149    Cross Pequessing Creek and enter BUCKS County, which was one of the three original counties in Pennsylvania.  The county was created by William Penn in 1682, and named after Buckinghamshire, England, colloquially known as “Bucks.”  It is the 4th most populous county in the State, and the county seat is Doylestown; however, Doylestown has not always been the county seat.  Other previous county seats are Bristol and Newtown.  Many place names in the county today are taken from places in County Buckinghamshire, England.

         During the American Revolution, General George Washington and his troops camped in Bucks County as they prepared to cross the Delaware River to take Trenton, New Jersey, by surprise on the morning of December 26, 1776.  Their successful attack on Britain's Hessian forces was a turning point in the War.

          Bucks County is the last county in Pennsylvania through which we will pass.

150    Pass through the suburban community of Andalusia, formerly known as Torresdale Manor. Andalusia is the home of many shopping areas, especially the Franklin Mills Mall.  The neighborhood was named after the Andalusia estate of Philadelphia financier Nicholas Biddle.

151    CORNWELLS HEIGHTS AMTRAK/SEPTA station, 700 Station Avenue. Elevation approximately 37 ft.  This station serves AMTRAK’s Keystone trains only.  The station was built in 1997. Cornwells Heights was named after Thomas Cornwell, an early landowner.

152    Pass through Eddington, which was formerly part of Cornwells Heights-Eddington, which was eventually split into 2 separate boroughs.

153.5 Cross Neshaminy Creek, a 40.7-mile long stream which flows entirely within Bucks County, and which flows into the Delaware River approximately one mile south of the railroad.  The name Neshaminy is a Lenape Indian word believed to mean “place where we drink twice, referring to a spot in the river in which the course of the stream changes at nearly a 90o angle.

154-155 Pass through Croydon, located on the Delaware River. Croydon is the home of White Hall of Bristol College, a historic structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The college was chartered in 1834 by the Episcopal Education Society.  The structure was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and from 1868 through the 1880s, as an orphanage for the children of black soldiers.

156-157 Pass through Bristol, which was laid out in 1697 and was originally called Buckingham.  It was founded by Samuel Clift, and was the Bucks County seat until 1725. The borough was named after Bristol, England, a seaport on the west coast, which was the home of William Penn’s grandfather Giles Penn.  During the American Industrial Revolution, Bristol was the terminus of the Delaware Canal, an important trade canal which connected the anthracite mines to the north and west with Philadelphia.  William Penn’s grant from King Charles II required Clift to operate a ferry service across the Delaware River to what is now Burlington, New Jersey.

         Bristol is the home of the Grundy House and Museum, which became the home of Senator Joseph R. Grundy.  Bristol is also the home of the Bristol Riverside Theatre, Dorrance Mansion, Grundy Mill Complex, and Jefferson Land Association Historic District.  It hosts several cultural festivals and free concerts each summer.

158.5 Pass beneath the Pennsylvania Turnpike and pass through Edgely.

160   Pass through Tullytown.

161-163 On the right (northbound) is Van Sciver Lake.  For the last several miles, we have been traveling across Quaternary-aged terrace and alluvial deposits, which consist mainly of sand and gravel.

163-165 We are now paralleling the Pennsylvania Canal on the left (northbound), the eastern portion of the waterway built to connect the Philadelphia area with the Pittsburgh area. This canal is part of the Main Line of Public Works (see MP 254 above).

164.5-165.5 Pass through Morrisville, the last borough in Pennsylvania, located directly across the Delaware River from Trenton, New Jersey.  Morrisville was first inhabited by members of the Dutch West India Company, which operated on an island in the Delaware River from 1624 to 1627.  The borough was later named after American Founding Father Robert Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the main financier of the American Revolution. Later, one of the first ferries to cross the Delaware River was established here.  By the late 18th Century, a settlement was forming at the ferry crossing then known as Colvin's Ferry.  The settlement incorporated into a borough in 1804, taking the name of Morrisville.

          Morrisville is the home of Robert Morris’ Summerseat home, also known as the George Clymer House or Robert Barclay House.  Morris was the second owner of the house, from 1791 to 1798. Morrisville is also the home of William Penn’s country estate of Pennsbury Manor, as well as the Graystone Forest, site of William Penn’s first purchase of land from the Lenape Indians.  The Gershom Craft House and Trenton City/Calhoun Street Bridge are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Summerseat is a National Historic Landmark.

165.5 Cross the Delaware River and enter MERCER County, NEW JERSEY, and the city of Trenton.  Notice the famous bridge on the left (northbound), with the words “Trenton Makes, the World Takes” slogan, attesting to the industrial heritage of Trenton.  The sign may be partially obstructed from view by a newer bridge between the railroad and that bridge.

          On Christmas Eve of 1776, just a few miles north of here, George Washington and his army crossed the Delaware River to attack the British and Hessian troops who were waiting on the New Jersey side.

          Mercer County was named after Continental Army General Hugh Mercer, who died after being wounded at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777.  The county was created on February 22, 1838, from parts of Burlington, Hunterdon, and Middlesex Counties.  Mercer County currently has the 78th highest income of all United States counties.  The county seat is Trenton, which is also the State Capital.

         Mercer County has the distinction of being the famed landing spot for a fictional Martian invasion of the United States.  In 1938, in what has become one of the most famous American radio plays of all time, Orson Welles acted out his The War of the Worlds invasion.

166.5 TRENTON Transit Center, 72 S. Clinton Avenue.  Elevation approximately 29 ft.  Trenton is the county seat of Mercer County, and also the State Capital of New Jersey.  All AMTRAK trains which pass through this station make a stop here.  The creek on the northwest side of the station (left if eastbound) is Assupink Creek.  The rocks in the walls of the creek are schist and gneiss of the Precambrian-Lower Cambrian aged Wissahickon Formation.

          Trenton is named after William Trent, a Philadelphia merchant, who originally called the town “Trent’s Town.”  Trent had purchased land from Mahlon Stacy, one of the original Quakers who settled the area in 1679.  Trenton was the original capital of the United States, when the Confederation Congress met here in 1784.  Northerners were in agreement with the choice of Trenton as the capital of the new nation; however, the southerners prevailed, and wanted a capital south of the Mason-Dixon Line; therefore, Washington DC became the ultimate choice for the national capital.  Trenton became the capital of New Jersey in 1790, and was incorporated in 1792.

         In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City opened, which brought fame to Trenton-based John A. Roebling’s Sons, who designed the Brooklyn Bridge, in addition to the George Washington and Golden Gate (California) Bridges, plus the Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio.  After the Civil War, Trenton was also the center of the American pottery industry.

         Trenton is the home of Cadwalader Park, named after Dr. Thomas Cadwalader, a pioneer in the use of preventative inoculation. Trenton is also home of the New Jersey State Museum, Old Barracks Museum, Washington Crossing State Park, and the William Trent House.

                                                                                               Geologically, we will be continue to follow the approximate boundary between the Piedmont Province and the Atlantic Coastal plain between here and New York.  Basically, the entire segment of the Piedmont Province in New Jersey is part of the Newark Basin, which is a part of the Piedmont Lowland.  The Newark Basin is a series of flat-floored faulted valleys underlain by red beds of Triassic and Jurassic age as well as Precambrian-aged metamorphic rocks.