Created By: Sarah Mims
The area below the confluence of the east and west branches of the Brandywine Creek was referred to as Shunk's Ford at the time of the American Revolution. The location was guarded by Continental troops on September 11, 1777. Many years after the Battle of Brandywine an open deck wooden bridge was constructed at the location of the ford and the name of the area was changed to Wistar's Bridge, named after the family who owned the farmland to the west of the Brandywine at that location. This bridge connected Birmingham Township to the east with Pocopson Township to the west. In 1855 John Sager bought the existing multi-story stone grist mill on the land east of the bridge. In 1856 a new covered bridge was constructed replacing the former open deck bridge. This covered bridge, referred to as Sager's Bridge, was built by Jackson Kimble and John L. Wiley. It had a span of 150 feet and a roadway width of 12 feet 6 inches. This was the only bridge the duo built in Chester County. In 1870 the Wilmington and Reading Railroad (later Wilmington and Northern) was built on the western bank of the Brandywine near the Pocopson Township approach to Sager's Bridge. The first railroad station was named Sager's Station. Within months the local residents petitioned to have a US Post Office located at the new railroad stop. After much back and forth with the federal government the name Lenape was chosen which was the name of the Indian tribe that had settled the surrounding area centuries earlier. The names of the bridge, railroad station, and US Post office were all changed to Lenape. In 1892 the covered bridge was demolished and replaced with an open deck wooden bridge that allowed the newly formed West Chester Street Railway Company to cross their trolley car over the Brandywine Creek to the station along the railroad. Due to flooding at Lenape the roadway was frequently closed when access to the approaches was impassable. Likewise the Brandywine was frequently impassable at most covered bridge locations between Wilmington and Downingtown during extreme flooding. In 1912 the Commissioners of Chester County appropriated money for the fabrication of a flood bridge at Lenape to span the flood plain between the existing wooden bridge and Creek Road to the east. This flood bridge would allow for travel between West Chester and points west in times of flooding when the other crossings were impassable. To make way for the new flood bridge the abandoned Sager's Mill was demolished. The stones from that structure and another mill structure demolished near West Chester provided the materials for the new masonry bridge. The seven arched stone flood bridge was completed in 1912 and refurbished in the 1980's. The roadway was resurfaced in 2016 in preparation of the detoured traffic coming from the bridge replacement at Pocopson on Street Road. Re-enter Creek Road and travel north to the stop sign at the end of the stone bridge.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Bridges of Chester County's Lower Brandywine Creek watershed