Washington Crossing State Park Travel Guide

  • Site of Washington's Crossing
    Site of Washington's Crossing
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  • Washington Crossing State Park
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  • Things to Do
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Washington Crossing State Park Things to Do

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    Johnson Ferry House 2 more images

    by KiKitC Written Nov 4, 2009

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    This early 18th-century farmhouse & tavern near the Delaware River was owned by Garret Johnson, who operated a 490-acre colonial plantation as well as a ferry service across the river.

    General George Washington and his staff occupied this house while the American Army regrouped after the successful night crossing of the Delaware River in December 1776. Washington's staff used the shelter of this house to finalize strategy for the attack on Trenton.

    This farmhouse is the only existing structure within the park hat witnessed the Crossing of the Continental troops on December 25-26, 1776. It was built around 1740 by Rutger Jansen, a Dutchman from Flatbush, Long island, on a tract of 490 acres that he purchased along the Delaware River. His son, Garret, inherited the house and property and, with his wife Judith and their 12 children, established a thriving plantation and ferry business. The dutch name Jansen was Americanized to Johnson. By 1769 the Johnson Farm included the present farmhouse, a barn, stables, a stone shop and kitchen, fruit orchards, grain fields, meadows and a timberland. In 1761, Garret obtained a tavern license to operate a ferry service with an upper and a lower landing. The crossing bridge now stands at what was the lower ferry landing. Ferry travelers could find refreshment or lodging in this farmhouse.

    Still referred to as Johnson’s Ferry during the American Revolution (Samuel McKonkey owned the ferry on the Pa. side), it was rented and operated by James Slack and owned by Abraham Harvey. As New Jersey was British occupied in December of 1776, Hessian patrols from Trenton passed through Johnson’s Ferry frequently for roughly two weeks before the Battle of Trenton. The site was also witness to a small military skirmish on Christmas Eve between 30 Continental scouts and 50 patrolling Hessian jaegers. Best known, however, was the Christmas Night Crossing of the river of 2,400 Continental Troops leading to the Battle of Trenton. The house was used briefly by Continental troops and officers and possible by George Washington, who was the driving force behind the campaign. The Battle of Trenton was a pivotal victory for the American Cause.

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    Continental Lane 1 more image

    by KiKitC Written Nov 4, 2009

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    "At the rear of the ferry house is (L) CONTINENTAL LANE, a dirt road, the path that the army followed on the march to the battle."

    --- New Jersey, A Guide to its Past and Present, 1939

    Many travelers used the Johnson Ferry House as a stop along their route, waiting on the ferry. Washington probably spent some time here as well, while waiting for the rest of his army to cross. From the Ferry House, they marched towards Trenton.

    The Continental Lane is the path they took, and visitors can pick it up right behind the ferry house. It is a forest trail with some roots and stumps to watch for.

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    Museum

    by KiKitC Written Nov 4, 2009

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    The visitors' center has an impressive museum with Revolution Era relics, such as documentation, uniforms, muskets and cannonballs. I was very impressed by the number of muskets recovered, from both sides, and the information provided about each piece, including who made it!

    A new 27 minute video about the historic crossing and the ensuing battles of Trenton and Princeton will be showing every hour (every half hour when they get busy). Photography is not allowed within the museum. Admission is free.

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