Circa 1900: “Wheat Plains,” the old Brodhead Homestead, Pike Co., Pennsylvania
2016: The sad state of the Wheat Plains house – victim of the Tocks Island Dam project
Hello, Brodhead descendants & anyone with an interest in Pennsylvania history! You may not be aware of an important project that could greatly use your support: the restoration of Wheat Plains Farm in Pike County, Pennsylvania, the old Garret Brodhead (1730-1804) family homestead that Brodhead family members were forced to abandon in the 1970s due to the Tocks Island Dam project. Below is a letter just received from James and Barbara Brodhead who are spearheading the DePuy-Brodhead Family Association’s efforts to restore the home (now managed by the National Park Service). So please take a few moments to read the below letter and see if you can lend your support. PS: Next summer’s DePuy-Brodhead Family Association annual reunion is likely to be held there; it would be extremely positive if as many Brodhead descendants as possible made the effort to be there to show the NPS that the home’s fate is of concern to many, not just a few. I hope to be there—a great opportunity to support a great cause and meet cousins of all kinds.
As many of you know, some members of the DePuy/Brodhead Family Association have been working with the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to preserve the Wheat Plains house. Wheat Plains is the farm started by Garret Brodhead on the land he received as partial payment for his service in the Revolutionary War. From 1790 the farm was owned by the Brodhead family until it was sold to Cornelius Swartout in 1871. Robert Packer Brodhead purchased back the farm in 1896 and his descendants remained there until the 1970’s when the land was acquired by eminent domain as part of the Tocks Island Dam Project. The Army Corp of Engineers headed the project. Later the Army Corp of Engineers determined that the river bed would not support the dam. The land then was transferred to the National Parks Service (NPS) who now manages the property. There are currently about 700 buildings remaining in the park on both sides of the Delaware River. Some have historical significance and most have sentimental value. Many buildings are in poor condition. Wheat Plains is structurally sound and it sits in a prominent place on highway 209.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA) is developing a long range plan to identify which buildings should be restored, maintained, or removed. The NPS has limited funds to do this work. Included in their consideration is the cost of maintenance and what the long term usage of the structure will be. Without a defined usage the preservation efforts will be limited.
Now to get to the purpose of this letter. We have been encouraged to send letters to the Superintendent of the DWGNRA and express our interest and support of preserving Wheat Plains or other structures. Please write a politely worded letter expressing your personal interest in preserving Wheat Plains farmhouse and property. Please include personal memories and historical facts that you have. If you have ideas for the usage for the house, (i.e. museum, vacation rental, etc.) please include that also. These letters need to be sent by the end of the year in order to be included in the evaluation process. The sooner the letters arrive the better. The Association created a good impression when we helped clean the house in 2015. It showed the NPS how much we care and your letter will add to that.
When writing your letter please remember that the NPS had nothing to do with taking the land; they were given the task of maintaining it. Please keep your letter kind and considerate.
Please address your letter to:
John J. Donahue, Superintendent
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area &
Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River
1978 River Road
Bushkill, PA 18324
Please also send copies of your letter to the following at the address above or email a copy to the addresses
Judson Kratzer – Judson_Kratzer@NPS.gov
Jennifer Kavanaugh – Jennifer_Kavanaugh@NPS.gov
We are in the initial stages of organizing a “Friends of Wheat Plains” non-profit org. to collect donations to help support the preservation of Wheat Plains. More information coming.
We sincerely thank you,
James and Barbara Brodhead