Pennsville – A Township Surrounded by History … And so much More!


Delaware Memorial Bridge, Pennsville

Pennsville is centrally located in a very active area, ­being only 12 miles from Wilmington, DE, 34 miles from Philadelphia, PA and 63 miles from Atlantic City, NJ. Visitors to the area will never be at a shortage of interesting things to do and places to visit.

Several hundred years ago in 1638, our early colonists, the Swedes and the Finns, settled in Wilmington, Delaware. A few years after arriving, they journeyed across the Delaware River into New Jersey, where they found the land more suitable for farming. Most of the Finns settled in the area near a turn in the Delaware River, which is now known as Finn’s Point. The Swedes, however, chose to settle near the area that, before their ­arrival, had been known as Churchtown. The Lenni-­Lenape tribe of Indians, who were living in this area along the Delaware River, sold land to the settlers, which is verified by records that date back to 1665. In addition to farming and the trade business, fishing was one of the chief occupations for the settlers of Pennsville. 

Before settling on the name “Pennsville” the town was name by other names such as Quihawkin, Kinsey­ville, Biddle’s and Cravens Ferry. Along with a few other nearby communities, Pennsville is named after the famous colonist William Penn and it was incorporated by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798. 

Pennsville is home to several historical sites, including Finn’s Point Lighthouse and Fort Mott State Park. Finn’s Point Lighthouse construction began in the late 1800’s and the lights at Finn’s Point were put in place to help ships travel from Delaware Bay into the Delaware River. The front light was located near the banks of ­Delaware River and was displayed from a two-story dwelling. The keeper of this dwelling made sure, each and every night, the light was functioning properly to guide the ships. 

Approximately 1 ½ miles inland from the front light is where the rear range light stands. A tower of wrought-iron standing 94 feet tall is where the rear light is displayed. The number of stairs leading to the top of the tower is 130 and every night, the keeper of this light would climb the tower and light the lamp. 

In June of 1933, both lights were discontinued for a period of one year. Both lights were re-established after the many requests of river ship pilots, but automation took over and there were no light keepers on the premises anymore. Both lights were finally darkened permanently on March 22, 1950.

Another historical site is that of Fort Mott. Construction of the fort began in 1872, but was incomplete when it was halted in 1876. The fort was to be constructed with over fifteen gun positions which would hold several types of guns and was designed to resist a land attack. Fort Mott, along with Fort Delaware and Fort DuPont, were no longer useful after World War I when Fort Saulsbury in southern Delaware was built and became the main defensive for attacks. Although the fort was not used after 1910, troops were kept there until 1922. Upon their departure, the federal government kept a unit of caretakers there until the state of New Jersey acquired the military reservation as a historic site and State park in 1947. It was opened to the public on June 24, 1951.

As years went by, industrial development throughout Pennsville and the surrounding areas gave many people employment that was needed and the DuPont Company was the largest employer of residents around. In 1970, construction began on a chemical plant that would be named Ganes Chemicals. Siegfried was originally associated with the company in 1928 and later bought them. The Ganes name was changed to Siegfried (USA) in 2002. In 2005 Siegfried acquired the Penick Corporation, who also manufactured pharmaceutical products and those employees were relocated to the site here.

Facts and Figures:

State: New Jersey
County: Salem
Population: approx. 14 00
Mayor: Robert McDade

Further information:

Finn’s Point front light