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History of Neshaminy State Park

A crazy idea began at Neshaminy.

For repayment of a debt to his father, William Penn received a land grant in the American Colonies from the king of England. Instead of assuming that the king’s grant gave him property rights, William Penn had what many people considered a crazy idea, he would buy the land from its current inhabitants, the American Indians.

During 1682, William Penn made his first purchase from the Lenape chiefs. The land was bounded on the south by Neshaminy Creek. A year later, Penn’s second purchase was bounded on the north by Neshaminy Creek, making what is now Neshaminy State Park the core of the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The major portion of today’s Neshaminy State Park was a gift to the commonwealth by Mr. Robert R. Logan. A descendant of James Logan, colonial secretary to founder William Penn, Robert Logan’s estate “Sarobia” was given to the state upon his death in 1956.

The property had been a wedding gift to Mr. Logan and his wife, the former Sarah Wetherill of Philadelphia, by the bride’s parents. The Logan’s home has been removed, but many of their furnishings and belongings are now in the collections of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Dunks Ferry Road, forming the eastern boundary of the park, is one of the oldest roads in Pennsylvania. Beginning in 1679, Dunken Williams operated a ferry across the Delaware River. The road gave travelers access to his ferry, and today, more than three hundred years later, “Dunks Ferry” Road perpetuates both his name and enterprise.

During the mid-1700s, a large inn was built to serve travelers. Operated by many owners over the years, the Dunk’s Ferry Inn had a colorful history. One of the most successful owners was John Vandergrift, who also had a profitable shad fishing business for 39 years during the late 1800s.