NPS Debating Names for Outdoor Portion of Delaware’s National Park

Delaware’s First State National Historic Park, designated in 2014, comprises many of the state’s historic landmarks. The park includes the Old Swedes Historic Site, New Castle Court House Museum, and the Old State House, among others. Along with these historical resources, the national park also contains 1,100 acres of undeveloped land, preserved rolling hills and forests. While the entire park has been designated, the National Park Service is trying to name the outdoor portion of the park.

The landscape represents the largest part of the First State park. The preserved land stretches along the eastern bank of the Brandywine River into Pennsylvania and south into Brandywine Creek State Park. As the area has long been inhabited, it has been called many different names.

Some documents refer to the land as Woodland, in reference to the trust that owned the property before transferring it to the park service. Other source call the area Beaver Valley. This name, which comes from a waterway that runs through the northern portion of the land, predates the existence of the Woodland trust.

While the NPS works on finalizing the name, the service has used the compound name “Woodland- Beaver Valley.” Some, however, are concerned about the use of the Woodland name. Jason Hoover, executive director of local conservation organization Save The Valley, opposes the name because of the existence of an older name. Woodland has also been associated with efforts to build housing on the Pennsylvania border with the park. “It would be insensitive and weird,” he said.

NPS has not settled on a name. The park service planned to hold a public meeting to gather comments on the name, but had to cancel the meeting because of the coronavirus outbreak. NPS plans to review public input gathered via email before naming the park.

Superintendent of the park Cinda Waldbuesser said, “the goal is to land on a name that his historically accurate and important and that the community feels comfortable with.”