Monday, July 04, 2005

Newport Road

The Road to Newport, Delaware

Newport Road, originally an Indian trail that connected the Delaware River with Lancaster County, eventually became the major hauling route that ran from Mount Hope to Newport, DE. The total distance is about 63 miles. At first it was said to be so narrow that horses traveled in a single file. It was estimated to take about 7 to 8 hours to travel the entire distance at a normal pace on horse back. Pulling heavily loaded wagons and steeps hills often made the trip much longer.

Newport, Delaware, founded in 1682, was the seaport that goods came into from overseas. Since the infrastructure in Pennsylvania was not established at that time to support the people that flowed into Pennsylvania, goods that were shipped from Europe were then transported inland by wagon. This was a big business for the first settlers, transporting goods inland.

The Taverns

There were taverns and inns located on Newport Road about every ten miles for food and overnight stays. These taverns were built in the 1720 to 1740 time period. Services, such has blacksmith shops and carriage shops, sprung up around these locations. Later, people began settling near them, so churches and schools were not far behind. Towns like Rothsville, Lititz, Christiana, Avondale came into being.

Today, following Newport Road from Newport, DE to the Mount Hope, located at current day Route 72, you can find the buildings from the past standing, some in use as they were when first built, some adapted to modern uses.

In the middle of Chatham, along current day Route 41, also known as Newport Pike, a very fine and large inn was built and still exists. This is now a daycare operation.

Current day Dugan Station II in Gap located near the junction of Newport Road (Route 772) and Route 30 was once the northern terminus of the Gap-Newport Turnpike. This turnpike was incorporated by managers from Philadelphia, Chester and Lancaster Counties in 1796. The intention was to have this "turnpike" connect the Wilmington traffic to the Philadelphia / Lancaster traffic. Today this is still a major intersection and still serves the same purpose.

Newport Road also intersects with the Philadelphia / Lancaster Old Road (current day Route 340) in "Cross Keys", now known as Intercourse.

From here, the road was used much earlier, between 1725 and 1740.

Continuing north of Intercourse, between Monterey and Mascot on Mill Creek, Mascot Roller Mill still stands and is open free to the public. Built in the mid 1730's, this building remains an excellent example of how a mill appeared and operated.

You'll find a Tavern still standing at the intersection of Route 23 and Newport Road (Route 772) in Leola. That building now houses a tanning salon.

In Rothsville, located at the "Y" in the road at the intersection of Route 772 and East Newport Road, on the west end of town, sits the White Swan Hotel and is still in operation. The road in Rothsville was reported to always be muddy. Later a railroad was laid just to the north of town that ran from Reading to Lititz to Columbia.

Perhaps the most noteworthy Tavern was the one owned by Jacob Huber, located a quarter mile east of the intersection of current day Route 501 and East Newport Road. This is currently the Forgotten Seasons Bed & Breakfast. This is where Count Zinzendorf stopped and preached in December of 1742, to the local German farmers about his vision of establishing a settlement in the area for the purpose of extending the Moravian missions to the Natve Americans and to the German settlers. Later, as a result of Count Zinzendorf's visit, George Klein, a neighbor to Jacob Huber, donated his land to the Moravian Church. In 1756, this town became known as Lititz and remains to this day.

In the early 1750's, Jacob Huber started the Elizabeth Furnace operation located at current day Route 501 and Route 322. Elizabeth Furnace received it's name from Jacob's daughter, Elizabeth. She was the first wife of Baron William Henry Stiegel. Baron Steigel went on to developed the famous color glassware and founded the town of Manhiem, PA.

Near Elm, Christian Bomberger was one of the first settlers to the area. His son, Christian, farmed, had a distillery and hauled flour on the Newport Road for several years for Christian's Eby's mill in the mid 1700's.

In Elm, where five roads intersect, a tavern called Molly Plaster's Tavern operated. The roads to Speedwell Forge, Newport Road, Brubaker Valley Road and Elm Road are still active today. Molly Plaster's Tavern was known to be where the mountaineers and iron workers gathered.

In Penryn, Matthias Gish worked a Blacksmith operation along the road.

One interesting fact is that the Grubb family settled in the Newport / Newark Delaware region and also their family can be found as owners of the Mt Hope Furnace, located at the northern end of Newport Road, nearby Cornwall Furnace and Hopewell Forge.


Blogger John K said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:34 PM  
Blogger John K said...


My name is John, I'm a native to Lancaster county, and in the process of purchasing the White Swan Hotel.
Do you where I can find some history on the White Swan Hotel?

Thank you

3:35 PM  
Blogger patty said...

I have some information on your post about the White Swan Hotel.You can email me at

8:07 PM  
Blogger bbekstr said...

i worked at the white swan for years, i have stories and a ghost.....would love to see pics of the "new" white swan!

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live on Newport Gap Pike in Delaware and would like to know how to find out the history of the property on which I live and the surrounding area. To date, I've only learned that it once was a holding pen for cattle that was to be shipped on the now historic "Wilmington & Western RailRoad". How can I find out more?

3:32 AM  

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