Fifteen miles due west of center city Philadelphia, between Valley Forge National Park and Ridley Creek State Park, is a unique piece of open land. On 170 spectacular acres, one can find an 18th century village, mill race remnants, wildflower meadows, fertile marshes, mature woods and over a mile of meandering creek. Due to the vision and generosity of the late Mr. and Mrs. John C. Haas, future generations can experience the pleasures of Waterloo Mills.
In an area where many historic treasures have disappeared along with much open space, Mr. and Mrs. Haas guaranteed that this land will be protected forever. In 1998, they gave the property to the Brandywine Conservancy which now manages it as the Waterloo Mills Preserve.
Members of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art can walk a network of trails through the property. Stepping stones and a puncheon log allow visitors to ford small streams and Darby Creek. Along the way, they may encounter a variety of wildlife ranging from whitetail deer to turtles to migratory birds. Visitors can see fascinating varieties of plants throughout the preserve.
The village of Waterloo Mills, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, includes an old gristmill, a barn, a wheelwright and blacksmith's shop, and two houses. As a boy, Mr. Haas and his mother planted many of the trees that distinctly characterize the village landscape today. In donating the property to the Brandywine Conservancy, the Haases noted that encroaching residential development was "inevitable," but they felt that sharing the property with others was "the natural thing" to do.
An Outdoor Laboratory
The Conservancy makes the preserve available to local schools and other educational institutions and groups for use as an outdoor laboratory and classroom. Dozens of primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities are located within a few miles of the preserve, and many of these have developed high quality environmental education programs.
The Conservancy encourages scientific research on the preserve. Conservancy properties have frequently been the source of graduate and undergraduate research, and the Waterloo Mills Preserve will join this tradition.
The Waterloo Mills Preserve is open to members of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art from dawn to dusk, Wednesday through Sunday. Visitors should carry their Conservancy membership cards.
If you would like to visit the Waterloo Mills but are not currently a member, please click here to join online.
The preserve is located in Easttown Township, Chester County and Newtown Township, Delaware County. The entrance is on South Waterloo Road, approximately ¼ mile south of the intersection with Church Road.
To protect its wealth of natural and cultural resources, and to facilitate scientific research and environmental education, Waterloo Mills is managed as a limited-use preserve. Visitors use Waterloo Mills at their own risk and can help to protect the preserve by:
- staying on existing trails, roads and paths,
- refraining from cutting, removing or disturbing vegetation,
- not bringing dogs into the preserve,
- picking up litter,
- avoiding marked scientific research sites,
- not taking any motorized vehicles beyond the parking lot,
- hunting by permit only, and
- not consuming alcoholic beverages, smoking or building fires.
If you would like to visit Waterloo Mills but are not currently a member, or to request a group visit, please contact the Conservancy at 610-388-2700 or [email protected].
Members of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art may take photographs at the Waterloo Preserve for their own personal enjoyment. Commercial photography (including Weddings or any photography with a model or models) requires a permit. Requests for photography permits should be emailed at least two weeks in advance to [email protected]. The Brandywine Conservancy reserves the right to grant or deny a permit and to charge a reasonable fee. All photographers are subject to posted rules and regulations applicable to all visitors. Drone photography is not allowed.
Visit RecreateResponsibly.org for important guidelines on how to best protect yourself, others and the outdoors while enjoying the Brandywine's preserves and our region's parks, trails, and beaches.