The Aquetong Creek and Watershed

The Aquetong Watershed is a small rural watershed located in the Aquetong Valley in New Hope and Solebury Pennsylvania. Measuring just 7.6 square miles (4,864 acres). It is classified as a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery by the PA Department of Environmental Protection, underlain by limestone and dolomite geological formations. In the Lenape language, Achewetonk was the name of the village that was near the spring, and this was later adapted to ‘Aquetong.’

The town of New Hope owes its name to a famous mill owner, Benjamin Parry, who made great industrial use of Aquetong Creek. In 1790, Parry lost his mills to fire. His rebuilt mills were called “New Hope Mills,” providing new life for the town. Eventually, as the town continued to prosper as a hub of commerce, it was incorporated as New Hope borough in 1837. In 1939, one of Parry’s rebuilt mills was converted to the Bucks County Playhouse. The Playhouse is located in the center of the town, just below the falls of a mill pond near Parry’s former residence.

The Aquetong Watershed

The Aquetong Watershed is a rural watershed located in the Aquetong Valley in New Hope and Solebury Pennsylvania. Measuring 7.6 square miles (5,384 acres), it is classified as a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery by the PA Department of Environmental Protection, underlain by limestone and dolomite geological formations. In the Lenape language, ‘Aquetong’ meant ‘spring’ (aque-) ‘in the bushes’ (-tong).

Aquetong Creek is the main stem of the watershed. Its primary water source is Ingham Spring, a 2000 gallon per minute limestone spring. The spring was a vital source of water to the Lenni Lenape tribes that first inhabited this area, and later was an important power source for mills along the creek. We do not know the exact form of the Lenape name for the spring; the likely word was Achewetong or Achewe-tank, meaning ‘at the spring in the bushes’ or ‘at the spring by the bushy pine trees.’

The majority of the watershed (more than 75 percent) consists of forested and agricultural areas including nurseries, crops, and horse farms. There are many small-lot residential neighborhoods; the majority of the remaining large parcels have been preserved. Ingham Lake and Ingham Spring are classified as a Priority 2 site and Sugan (Burrell’s) Lake is a Priority 3 site in the Bucks County’s Natural Areas Inventory (Rhoads and Block, 1999).

Forested areas commonly occupy the larger parcels. American sycamore, red maple, tulip poplar, American beech, and grape vines are common species. Rare plant species identified in the watershed include Mead’s sedge and wild senna (Shulzabarger, 2005).

Fauna within the Aquetong Creek watershed includes wildlife species such as eastern cottontail, groundhog, deer, raccoon, opossum, red fox, skunk and the occasional black bear. In addition, the large expanse of mostly undeveloped land interspersed with surface water and forest supports a wide array of birds such as the mallard duck, red tail hawk, turkey vulture, American crow and Canada goose, in addition to a number of songbirds such as the American robin, blue jay, morning dove, cardinal, barn swallow, house sparrow and gray catbird.

Geologic formations underlying the Aquetong Creek watershed include the Stockton Formation, Stockton Conglomerate, Beekmantown Group, Brunswick Formation, Leithsville Formation, diabase, Brunswick Formation, and the Allentown Formation. These formations are sandstone, sandstone conglomerate, dolomite limestone, diabase, and shale. Dolomite and limestone formations cause karst geology, which when combined with a geological fault, have resulted in the formation of Ingham Spring.

The watershed includes gentle rolling hills and very few areas with steep slopes: elevations range between almost 450 feet above MSL to 100 feet above MSL. The substrate of Aquetong Creek primarily consists of cobble and gravel, and very few boulders.

Aquetong Creek is classified as a high quality cold-water fishery (HQ-CWF) per Chapter 93 of Title 25 of the Pennsylvania Code. The total length of the perennial portion of Aquetong Creek is approximately 10.75 miles. The stream is approximately 25 feet wide near the New Hope Borough and Solebury Township border. The creek is generally one to two feet deep, but becomes much deeper in the lakes.

Aquetong Creek’s headwaters include two large springs (Ingham Spring and a large spring at Gateshead Farm) and several other headwater reaches, including Honey Hollow, which is a notable branch of Aquetong Creek. Ingham Lake and Sugan (Burrell’s) Lake, both located in the Aquetong Creek watershed, are the largest reservoirs in Solebury Township.