The  Poquessing Pathfinder Online
The Friends of Poquessing Watershed Inc. of Philadelphia and Bucks County
Dedicated to the Conservation and Beautification of the Poquessing Creek and Its Environs 
P.O. Box 11552  Email: Spring/Summer  2003   Volume 13   Issue 1
Philadelphia, PA 19116 Phone: (215) 972-6275  Fax: (215) 632-2549 

                                                                         THE PRESIDENT’S CORNER                                                                                                                                                 Cross and flowers                                                                  Dianne Retzback 

                                         We Remember Henry J. Gabriel   
                                   August 17, 1923 - December 13, 2002

       A founding member and past president of FOPW. Founder of FOPW Townwatch. WWII Veteran. Steadfast defender of Benjamin Rush State Park and all natural and open spaces. Advocate of the history of the Rush family and the vanishing history of far Northeast Philadelphia.       We know these achievements and more about Henry. But I would like to tell you about Henry from a personal perspective. Henry became my teacher because from 1992-1995 I traveled with him to meetings at EPA, DEP, Fairmount Park Commission, Zoning, PDHC, Bucks County environmental associations, etc, etc. Believe me I got my lessons! Because Henry was not given to speaking much about himself, I learned more from the things he didn’t say than from much he did say. We all are formed by what early on is engraved in our hearts.  Henry and I shared a passion for quiet wooded spaces and clear running water as our way to escape loss and loneliness. We both had parents who died when we were quite young; and we both found the trees and woods our places to go to for solace. 
    Henry was raised in Burholme. As a young boy, he biked through Pennypack and Somerton when farms were what comprised most of the far Northeast. He served in WWII, went to work for the telephone company, and married Rosemary Ranini. In 1950, he bought a lot on Trevose Road and with Rosemary’s dad, built his “home in the country”. Behind Henry’s home was a farm. His daughters have often spoken of the sheep and animals they lovingly remember as part of their early life. 
    As Henry’s children and grandchildren became realities in his life, his zeal for open space and historical preservation became even more intense. What he wanted for those who came after him - and for all who came after us - was to have an awareness and a choice for a quality of life. 
    As development continued, Henry saw more and more farms and historic open spaces being lost - carelessly and poorly planned. Certainly he realized that progress was necessary; but bad planning without the input of the community should not have to be part of that progress. His fervor to keep a quality of life intensified.
    The rest is legend. Henry became an intense civic activist and worked with other compassionate activists in the community to try to give us all a voice. His avocation became more than a fulltime job. In 1995 Henry announced that he could no longer be FOPW president. He realized that the pressures of his dreams for Poquessing Watershed and Benjamin Rush Park were overwhelming. He was 70, not in the best of health, had home obligations and a family to spend time with and enjoy. 
    And speaking of Henry’s family, FOPW cannot say enough about their support and participation. For years, all of
them helped keep FOPW active and alive.
    Unfortunately, many of you know, Henry’s health continued to decline. Henry suffered from colon cancer and
pulmonary fibrosis - and his family was again there with him for love and support.
    We continue to extend our profound thanks and sympathy to Rosemary, and daughters Eileen Brown, Kathleen
Gibboni, Sharon Love and Rosemary Washburn and all the grandchildren.
    As daughter Kathleen has told me, “ He was my hero”. 
    May Henry rest in peace.


In January another FOPW “compassionate activist”,  Stanley Grossman, lost his long-fought battle with leukemia.
Stanley was a joy to know and work with. He and his wife Sheila  were active forces with Friends of Pennypack and
Friends of Philadelphia Parks. Our sincere condolences to his wife and family.  Stanley will be dearly missed.     


Call for Park Supporters to Speak with One Voice
1. Write or fax Mayor Street and your District and At-Large Council Members
    - identify yourself, your address & community
    - write why parks are important to you & your community
    - Or use to send your fax
2. Attend City Council Budget hearing on Monday March 3, 2003 at 9:30 AM in Courtroom 696, City Hall 
    Wear green and carry signs!
- Funding for Phase 2 of the Strategic Plan for Phila Parks
- A grant researcher/writer for  Fairmount Park Commission
- Increases in hourly wages, hours worked per week, & number of positions for seasonal maintenance attendants in Dept of  Recreation Parks.     Guarantee their continued funding
- Please also thank Mayor Street and City Council for their support of the Strategic Planning Process for Philadelphia’s parks.
Estuary Grant Awarded
                Suzanne Zlotnick, Vice President of Education 
     The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary recently awarded grants for habitat restoration this year.  The William H. Loesche Elementary School received one of these grants in the amount of $3,000 in partnership with the Friends of Poquessing Watershed.  This grant award will allow us to continue our “Mad About Meadows” project located on Tomlinson Rd., behind the Somerton Water Tanks, in partnership with the
Philadelphia Water Department.  The grant funding will also be used for the “Gardening Gurus” project on the grounds of the Loesche School.
Both habitat restorations will provide the children with valuable learning experiences!  (Shhh!  Don’t tell anyone but they may have fun while they are learning!)  Stay tuned for updates!  
Glen Foerd Tour 
            Jo Edwards, Vice President Ways and Means 
Our trip to Glen Foerd planned for January 22, 2003 was postponed due to a conflict of dates. It will be re-scheduled
for late Spring. A tour of Glen Foerd mansion is always interesting, informative, and relaxing so plan to join us. Watch
future newsletters for more details.

Stone Arch Bridges on the Poquessing
            Donna Remick, Vice President

Red Lion Road Bridge
 Red Lion Bridge

    With three arches, the Red Lion Road bridge is the largest stone arch bridge on the Poquessing. It is no longer heavily used, and primarily serves as an exit for homes in Crestmont Farms to Bristol Pike. We believe this bridge is owned jointly by Bucks County and Philadelphia, and the city of Philadelphia plans reconstruction of the bridge in 2009. They are not yet sure what form the reconstruction will take. 
    The area around the Red Lion Bridge is rich in local history. A few blocks away lies the Hart Burying Ground established in 1683, where some of the earliest settlers, including ancestors of Dr. Benjamin Rush,  were laid to rest. General George Washington and the Continental Army camped along the Poquessing behind the Red Lion Inn on their way to Yorktown. The Red Lion Inn, located on the Kings Highway (now
Bristol Pike) next to the bridge, was the first public house in the area. Delegates to Congress from Massachusetts dined there on their way to Philadelphia in 1774, and  John Adams was known to stop there on his travels to and from Philadelphia. The Red Lion Inn operated from about 1726 until it was destroyed by fire in 1991. 

           Red Lion Inn

This circa 1900 photograph of the Red Lion Inn with the Red Lion Bridge in the background, is the mural featured at Commerce Bank on Street Road at Mechanicsville Road in Bensalem. Copies are free, just stop by and ask.

Century Lane Bridge

   Century Lane Bridge

    A History of Byberry and Moreland written by Joseph C. Martindale in 1867, describes the Century Lane Bridge as “a substantial county bridge” which connects the villages of Mechanicsville and Elizabethtown (a few homes in Bensalem).  It is still in use. We believe it is owned jointly by Bucks County and Philadelphia, and Philadelphia plans to rehabilitate it without affecting its appearance in 2004.

Century Bridge Stone

        Built in 1853, Century Lane was named for this bridge. Former resident Harold Heller related that in 1953, a few years after he bought
his home near the bridge, he invited a friend in Bucks County government over for a visit. Century Lane was then known as State Road,
and his friend spent the day searching for Mr. Heller’s home on the far more well-known State Road along the Delaware. When he finally arrived, they decided it was time for a unique name for the road, and Mr. Heller suggested Century Lane, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the bridge.

Townsend Road / Richlieu Road Bridge

Townsend/Richlieu Bridge

    Built in 1849, this bridge connected Townsend Road in Philadelphia  with Richlieu Road in Bensalem. Townsend Road is now closed, and is part of Benjamin Rush State Park. The bridge is not presently in use, and in serious need of restoration and repair. We believe this bridge is owned jointly by PennDOT and Philadelphia. This bridge is identified in the 1986 book Historic Highway Bridges in Pennsylvania, written
by the Commonwealth of PA, PA Historical and Museum Commission, and PennDOT, as possessing the technological significance, historic importance and integrity necessary to be eligible for the National Register. In 1995, FOPW obtained a grant from the Franklin Mills Advisory Council for repairs to the Townsend/Richlieu bridge. We were unable to obtain sufficient funds for rehabilitation, but we did have some emergency repairs made to stabilize the bridge. 
Byberry Bensalem Turnpike / Lincoln Highway Bridge
Byberry Bensalem Tpk/Lincoln Hwy Bridge

    This bridge carried both the Byberry and Bensalem turnpike road and the Lincoln Highway over the Poquessing. Built in 1805, it is the oldest of our stone arch bridges. We believe this bridge is owned jointly by Bucks County and Philadelphia. The History of Byberry and Moreland states that “The Byberry and Bensalem turnpike road was formerly known as the King’s highway, and was the main road leading from
Philadelphia to Growden’s mansion” and “The Byberry and Bensalem turnpike was chartered in March, 1848, and was open for travel in 1852. It is 5 1/4 miles long and costs $11,442.” In 1929, an article in the Delaware Valley Advance by Samuel C. Eastburn states a “turnpike road was built from Oakford through Byberry and Bensalem to Philadelphia” and explains “these roads were built by local people to get to market and to the county town. They charged tolls and it is interesting to note that they passed free people who were going to invite to funerals, or attending them, going to church or meeting." Later, it became part of the Lincoln Highway, the first cross-country highway in the United States, stretching from New York to San Francisco. The bridge is described in the book The Lincoln Highway: Pennsylvania Traveler's Guide by
Brian Butko. Today, this section of the highway lies abandoned, and the bridge, which now leads into Benjamin Rush State Park, is closed.