Thursday, September 3, 2015

Governing the county from pre-Revolutionary War site

Lake Towhee Park is worth finding for its history and outdoor activities.

Governing the county from pre-Revolutionary War site


Lake Towhee Park?


Stokes Meadow?

That’s where the Bucks County Commissioners conducted their first July public meeting Wednesday – but where in the world were they?

They were in the 700-acre county park, in the village built by cattle drivers Paul and Henry Applebach in the mid-1800s. A century earlier, the site was wetlands settled by a family from England that raised horses and cattle.

These days, the park east of Quakertown is part of Haycock Township, practically in the shadows of sprawling Lake Nockamixon State Park.

And Lake Towhee Park has a little-known claim to fame, county official Lynn Bush told the commissioners and the audience of about two dozen taxpayers and Bucks employees.

“Clay that comes from dredging of the lake is used to make tiles at the Moravian Tile Works” in Doylestown, said Bush, executive director of the Planning Commission.

“Until 1990, the Tile Works used clay from a farm at Cross Keys that had been stockpiled by Henry Mercer,” Bush said. “Then, they bought commercial clay for a year.”

Lake Towhee was being dredged at the time, and the clay was a match, she said. It has been used ever since – screened but without additives – at the tile works that Mercer operated from 1898 to 1930.

The park off Old Bethlehem Pike offers camping, fishing, boating and hiking.

And tucked away on its northern border, at the end of a gravel road, stands another little-known feature -- the Stokes House.

The Haycock Historical Society leases the 1740s farm house from the county to preserve it and open it to the public as a museum.    

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About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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