Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Winding through chateau country (as people sometimes call it) in southeastern Pennsylvania flows a river/creek with the beautiful name of Brandywine. The origins of the name Brandywine has many stories and much speculation. The name is liberally used throughout the region of what is known as the Brandywine Valley in
southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. We have the Brandywine Battlefield (Revolutionary War,1777), Brandywine River Museum (home of Wyeth art collections) and a lengthy list of Brandywine-named establishments listed in the Yellow Pages.

The Hagley Museum sits on the banks of the Brandywine in this region which is also known as DuPont country because the du Pont family settled from France on the Brandywine River in 1802 and built their gun powder mills that later became the DuPont Company (in French, du Pont). The early success of the company resulted in some fabulous estates owned by the family members, thus the name "chateau country".

Many estates have become museums such as Nemours(shares its grounds with world-renouned Alfred I.duPont Hospital for children), Winterthur, Rockwood, Longwood Gardens, Bellevue,and others. Many are still private estates. One such estate can be seen on a hilltop overlooking the Brandywine River, as well as one of the many Brandywine Bridges on a road called Smith's Bridge Road as it crosses into Delaware. You guessed it--this lovely bridge is called Smith's Bridge. It has changed appearances several times in its history, but this is my favorite version. I've lived in this region over forty years and it was always easy to see the potential of this bridge.

Thankfully, this 2002 restoration is much appreciated, photographed, and painted by many residents and visitors. Not only is the exterior very picturesque, the woodwork interior is extraordinary. It is a one-lane bridge so motorists on Smith's Bridge Road must sometimes wait for oncoming traffic to clear before driving across it. Form and function work well in this bridge because it is a much-needed, east-west route across the Brandywine. To take an alternate route, one must drive miles to the next bridge to cross the Brandywine.

The restoration was a joint Delaware State and grassroots effort to maintain a rustic, historic character of the bridge. Delaware also maintains several other beautiful covered bridges. No matter where a person lives, it is rewarding to appreciate the diamonds in our own back yards. There is much to enjoy in the Brandywine Valley.


  1. Hi ~ I love covered bridges and the history behind them so I am always glad when a community takes on the task of restoration. I enjoyed my visit to your bloghome and I will be back soon! Thank you for leaving a comment over at my place - much appreciated! Enjoy your day.

  2. I ADORED that post!1 Covered bridges always remind me of my mother- who used to paint them.

    (Psst. We're neighbors. Wait, I forgot. I'm from Oregon, NOT pa.)

  3. What a cool bridge, and I love the name "Brandywine".

  4. I have always liked the word too, so I don't mind that it is attached to so many organizations and businesses in this region. This is one of my favorite areas of the U.S.