The public will soon get to visit the John Dickinson Plantation in a way never before experienced, thanks to the pending installation of a series of pathways that will connect the property to the nearby Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR).

This winter, archaeologists will be on hand as the pathways are built close to what would have been historical pathways for those working and living on the property. Any currently unknown historic resources uncovered during the work will be preserved.

The main pathway will travel from the existing mansion south towards the St. Jones River, following an existing farm lane that has been on the property in some shape or form since the Dickinsons themselves walked the land. 

This image shows a view as of late 2022 of the old farm lane that will be converted into a pathway for the public, looking south toward the St. Jones River.
This image shows a view as of late 2022 of the old farm lane that will be converted into a pathway for the public, looking south toward the St. Jones River. Photo by Karen Katz, Government Information Center.

The first phase of work will head toward the marsh, utilizing the historic pathway that has existed for hundreds of years. From there, the pathway will head east and cut across a southern part of the property, following close to the edge of the marsh. At that point, the pathway will cross over into DNERR’s St. Jones Reserve.

That connection will allow people to park at either end and explore both properties. Historically, all of the land and more were part of John Dickinson’s 5,000-acre property. 

There will also be a section of pathway that leads to the buffer area around the African burial ground discovered in 2021

The initial phases are expected to be under construction starting this winter, and open to the public by some time in 2023. Interpretive panels installed along that pathway will help educate visitors about what they’re seeing and other features in the landscape, both historically and naturally.

Future phases of the pathway project will get people closer to the marsh and more of the agricultural fields. 

Financial support for this project was provided in part by a grant under the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act, administered by the Office for Coastal Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland.