Bowman’s Hill Tower (Upper Park)
Bucks County boasts many scenic spots, but there’s only one place to get an above-the-trees, bird’s-eye view of the surrounding countryside and Delaware River.
Rising 125 feet in the air atop Bowman’s Hill and offering a 14-mile view on a clear day, Bowman’s Hill Tower is a favorite stop for locals and tourists alike. The Tower is located near the corner of Rt. 32 (River Road) and Lurgan Road, a few miles south of New Hope, Pa. Seasonal operating hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week, weather permitting. The cost to ride the elevator or climb the stairs to the top is $6 per person. The Tower also may be seen as part of an $11 combination ticket when visiting other attractions in the Park.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the Tower is that it existed during General George Washington’s day. In reality, it was built of local field stone in 1929-31 to commemorate what may have been a lookout point for Washington’s troops to watch for enemy activity on the Delaware River. Today, historians consider using Bowman’s Hill for a lookout to be more oral tradition than documented fact, however.
Construction of the Tower took nearly two years to complete. More than 2,400 tons of materials were used, including 1,200 perches of native stone from the hill and nearby stone fences, cut stone from local quarries, 517 tons of sand and 225 tons of cement. Workers excavated 15-feet deep so that the 24–foot-squared base would rest on a bedrock foundation. With construction done entirely by the Washington Crossing Park Commission employees, the total cost of the Tower was $100,000, including labor and materials.
Soon after the tower’s construction, workers planted 28,300 seedlings in the area to reforest the hill like people thought it would have been in Washington’s time. Some of those seedlings have become today’s towering trees on Bowman’s Hill. Due to the Tower’s height, lightning strikes were an ongoing problem. To improve safety and eliminate damage to the Tower, the National Lightning Protection Company of St. Louis, MO installed a lightning protection system on the building. The vandalized, broken copper cables that visitors see hanging down its sides were part of this system. With the installation of new cables that are not copper, the system still operates today.
In the early 1980s, the Bowman’s Hill Tower underwent extensive restoration. An elevator was installed that takes visitors three-quarters of the way to the top, although it still is necessary to climb the last 23 steps to reach the outside observation deck. Previously, visitors had to climb a spiral staircase all the way to the top of the Tower. Today, visitors can choose which way they would like to reach the top.