The area now known as the Township of Tinicum in Delaware County Pennsylvania was originally inhabited by the Lenni-Lenape Indians. The name ” Leni-Lenape ” loosely interpreted in their Algonquian language meant “the real people” or “the original people.”
The Township is located in the Southeast portion of the state and is approximately five square miles bordered by the Delaware River, Darby Creek, and what was Bow creek and the back channel around Hog Island.
In 1643 the Swedes under the leadership of Johan Printz ( His likeness in the Township seal) made Tinicum the Capital of the New Sweden Colony. Governor Printz ruled for ten years and then returned to Sweden. Leadership was then taken over by Governor Rising who was in control until the Dutch conquered the Swedes in 1655.
In 1780 Tinicum became a Township in the State of Pennsylvania. The petition contained twenty-three signers.
In 1801 “The Lazaretto” a quarantine station was erected on the Delaware River shore . It was in operation until 1893 and the building and ground then became a recreation area . In 1915 it became the Philadelphia Seaplane Base and During World War I it was used by the Army for aviation training. The property was purchased by the Township 2005. The Lazaretto building has been mothballed for future restoration. The portion of the property along 2nd Street in Essington is now the home of the Tinicum Township Fire Company, Station 48. The Township formerly had two fire companies, Essington and Lester, but a merger of the two companies brought about the construction of the new fire station. On October 20, 2007 the merger was signed and there was a ribbon cutting for the new Station.
Tinicum went on to be an industrial area with the Westinghouse Electric Company and Lester Piano Works being the primary sources of employment for Tinicum and the surrounding communities for many years. Although both of these businesses have since closed, the properties which they occupied now have numerous smaller businesses that still employ many local residents.
Want a more indepth history? Read our publication The History of Tinicum Township. (Link opens in a new window)