Fort Billings Park – Paulsboro, Gloucester County, NJ
Distance – 1/3 miles total
Type – No marked trail
Difficulty: 1 of 10
Website – https://paulsboronj.org/boards-groups/fort-billingsport-preservation-committee/
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Field
Surface – Lawn
Trailheads – N 39° 50.765 W 075° 14.995
Directions – Clonmell Road & North Delaware St, Paulsboro, NJ
Parking – Good sized lot in park
Dog friendly? Unsure
Stroller friendly? Maybe heavy duty strollers
Other: Picnic pavillions and playground
Markings – None
Map – None (you’ll never be out of sight of your car though)
To start my 4th of July weekend this year, I decided to visit a place that had been on my list a zillion years – Fort Billings Park in Paulsboro, NJ. This small, unassuming plot of land, with a playground and some picnic pavillions, holds an important distinction – it was the first piece of property bought by the United States government back in 1776. Polish Nationalist and future Revolutionary War hero Tadeusz Kościuszko designed the fort (fun fact – he has a National Historic Park in Philadelphia in his honor… the smallest national park in the country! He also has a great polka written about him, which my wife occassionally hums).
The fort was built much smaller than designed, but did it’s job protecting a line of sharpened logs that were places in the Delaware to puncture holes in British ships heading for Philadelphia… at least until 1777 when the guns were spiked and the fort abandoned as the British approached (this was part of series of actions that also included nearby Red Bank Battlefield). The British dismantled the fort and built a small fortification, which was in turn retaken by the Americans when the British abandoned Philadelphia in 1778 (culminating in the Battle of Monmouth). The Americans rebuilt their own fortifications here and held them until the end of the war.
Later the fort area was used for militia training, but was abandoned by 1825 when it was sold to some locals. It was later used for wood harvesting, as farmland, as a “country estate”, and was part of “Lincoln Park”, an amusement park area with food, alcohol, nice walks, a reading room, ice cream, a carousel, and more.
It was finally bought by Standard Oil. If you want to read more about the history, check out the “Archaelogical Investigations of Revolutionary War Fort Billingsport” from May 2009 found here.
The walk is pretty short… past the parking lot, down toward the water. There are some nice views of the river, a flag, and some plaques to read with the history of the area.
After about 20 minutes, it started to pour rain, so I headed back to the car. This was 20 minutes well spent!
Nearby: Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse is around the corner.
History and a nice view of the water.
Not a very long walk.