History of Tyler State Park
The area that is now Tyler State Park was originally inhabited by the Lenni Lanape. Colonists purchased some of the land from William Penn in 1682.
Early in the 18th century, people farmed the land and families like the Coopers, Blakers, and Twinings built mills, houses, and barns. Neshaminy Creek supplied power for several mills, including the Cooper Mill and the Spring Garden Mill.
The paved trails in Tyler State Park were once farm roads. Many of the trail names indicate the farm routes they once were:
The original stone homes in the park are fine examples of early rural Pennsylvania farm dwellings. Ten farmhouses date from the 18th and 19th centuries and are currently being leased as private residences.
The Buckman Barn, located near the intersection of routes 332 and 413, is one of four barns in the park. It is a bank barn, which is built into a slope to provide easy wagon access to both levels. The Buckman Barn wasn’t built until the late 19th century, but sits on land purchased directly from William Penn in 1682.
The Spring Garden Mill still stands in the park near where route 332 crosses Neshaminy Creek. Although it now houses a community theater, the structure reflects its original purpose. From the outside, visitors can see where wagons pulled up to the mill and grains were hoisted by pulley, the waterwheel housing, and the ventilation cupola.
Before becoming a park, the Tyler Estate, also known as Neshaminy Farms, consisted of 18 farms over 2,000 acres of land. The Tyler Estate was owned by George F. and Stella Elkins Tyler who purchased the land between 1919 and 1929. Their first purchase was the Solly Farm, at the north end of the park. The Solly House served as the Tyler’s country home until the mansion was constructed.
The Tyler mansion, now part of Bucks County Community College, was designed in the French Norman style and consisted of 45 main rooms, two dozen fireplaces, a Dutch Room, and an English Pub.
Tyler Stables, built in the 1920s, is a massive Colonial Revival barn and building that now houses Tyler Park Center for the Arts. It was built by Mr. Tyler to house his workers and horse groomers and board 25 horses. In addition, they raised poultry, sheep, and pigs. On weekends, Mr. Tyler would host the Huntington Valley Hunt Club for riding and fox hunting.
The land that is now Tyler State Park was acquired through Project 70 funding and has been developed using funds from Project 500, the Pennsylvania “Land and Water Conservation and Reclamation Act.” The park officially opened on May 25, 1974.
Schofield Ford Covered Bridge
Between 1869 and 1871, the citizens of Newtown and Northampton Townships petitioned the Bucks County Commissioners to build a bridge connecting their two communities. By 1873, the bridge was completed and, for the next 118 years, it played an important and changing role in the social and economic life of Bucks County.
The finished bridge, built entirely of hemlock and oak, was supported by two stone abutments and a center pier. It stretched 166 feet across the creek, making it the longest covered bridge in Bucks County, as well as the only double-span bridge. The post and beam construction method, typical for the time, easily bore the weight of horses, wagons, and carriages traversing the old Holland Pike for business and pleasure.
When the covered bridge was constructed in the 1870s, it received no formal name from the County Commissioners, but took on the names of the farming families adjacent to it. Near the end of the 19th century, the Solly family owned the land and the bridge became known as the Solly Bridge.
During 1917, George Tyler purchased the Solly land, and a 1931 map of the Tyler property refers to the bridge area as Schofield Ford, the name which was adopted when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the land from the Tyler Estate in 1964.
During 1991, this county landmark was destroyed by fire. Using authentic materials and methods, a group of concerned citizens from various parts of the county undertook a united effort to rebuild this historic bridge. After five-and-a-half years of planning and fundraising, the Schofield Ford Bridge Committee organized a coalition to rebuild the bridge in the summer of 1997.
On September 6, 1997, the bridge was dedicated to the volunteers and contributors who made the reconstruction possible.