Historical Markers
Tinicum Historical Marker
Mouse over for marker text


Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
PA 291 eastbound, just Northeast of Essington

Dedication Date:
October 13, 1947

Behind the Marker

The site for the first permanent settlement of Pennsylvania was carefully selected and construction begun immediately, for the success of markerNew Sweden depended on it. As soon as the new governor, Lieutenant-Colonel Johan Printz, arrived in 1643, he ordered the construction of a massive new fort, trading post, and personal residence on a place the Swedes called Tinicum Island.

Before Printz left for New Sweden, officials in Stockholm had given him specific instructions to find build a fort that would strengthen Sweden's control of the region and the trade on the South River (better known today as the Delaware River). The governor chose Tinicum because of its strategic location on the western side of the Delaware River south of the Schuylkill River. On this island a fort could dominate both rivers and control the valuable fur trade.
The area known as Tinicum, and the strategically located Tinicum Island (areas in blue), are shown on this early map of Delaware County.
The area known as Tinicum, and the strategically located Tinicum Island (areas...

Construction of Fort New Gothenburg took almost a year. In March 1644, the Swedish government deeded Tinicum Island to Printz and his heirs, and the island became the colony's new capital. Printz also ordered the construction of a governor's residence which he named Printzhoff. Printzhoff was a spacious home, two stories high, with brick fireplaces and glass windows that he imported from Sweden.

On November 25, 1645, Printz's new home, and all the buildings – with the exception of a barn – of the fortified complex burned to the ground after gunner Sven Vass fell asleep at his post with a lit candle. It was a great loss to the colony, for the storehouse was filled with furs and tobacco for shipment to Sweden. But all was quickly rebuilt, and Printz's home was reconstructed in a grander style. Soon, the governor and his family had their own storehouses and out buildings, a dairy barn, log sauna and summer house as well.

On his island farm, the governor cleared twenty-four acres for a formal garden or park, an orchard and variety of other crops to provide food for himself and his family. He also devoted a portion of the land to the cultivation of an Indian plant called tobacco. The governor also cleared land to pasture his fifty cattle, horses, sheep and animals on the island that belonged to his servants.

After Printz returned to Sweden in 1653, Fort Christina (near present-day Wilmington, Delaware) again became the capital of the colony. Tinicum and Printzhoff became the possession of his daughter Amegot Printz Papegoja, who in 1662 sold the island to a Dutch settler Joost de La Grange for the princely sum of six thousand guilders. In the centuries that followed, the Printzhoff estate fell into ruin and was obliterated by fill, floods and the construction of new buildings. Archaeological digs in 1937, 1976 and 1985 uncovered a number of artifacts and the foundations of the Swedish governor's mansion. Today, the former capital of New Sweden is home to the Corinthian Yacht Club and markerGovernor Printz Park.
Back to Top