White Clay Creek

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White Clay Creek
Tributary to Christina River
White Clay Creek running through Newark, Delaware
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Location of White Clay Creek mouth
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White Clay Creek (the United States)
Country United States
State Pennsylvania, Delaware
Counties Chester, New Castle
City Newark, DE
Physical characteristics
SourceWest Branch White Clay Creek
  location Penn Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
  coordinates 39°48′57″N75°52′09″W / 39.81583°N 75.86917°W / 39.81583; -75.86917
2nd sourceMiddle Branch White Clay Creek
  location Londonderry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
  coordinates 39°51′40″N75°52′20″W / 39.86111°N 75.87222°W / 39.86111; -75.87222
Source confluence 
  location London Britain, Chester County, Pennsylvania
  coordinates 39°45′59″N75°47′41″W / 39.76639°N 75.79472°W / 39.76639; -75.79472
  elevation259 ft (79 m)
Mouth Christina River
New Castle County, Delaware
39°41′51″N75°37′19″W / 39.69750°N 75.62194°W / 39.69750; -75.62194 Coordinates: 39°41′51″N75°37′19″W / 39.69750°N 75.62194°W / 39.69750; -75.62194
0 ft (0 m)
Length18.5 mi (29.8 km)
Basin size107 sq mi (280 km2)
Basin features
Progression Christina RiverDelaware RiverDelaware BayAtlantic Ocean [1]
  leftEast Branch White Clay Creek, Bogy Run, Middle Run, Pike Creek, Mill Creek, Red Clay Creek
TypeScenic, Recreational
DesignatedOctober 24, 2000

White Clay Creek is an 18.5-mile-long (29.8 km) [2] tributary of the Christina River in southern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware in the United States. It is renowned for its scenic character and is largely federally protected.


The 107-square-mile (280 km2) White Clay Creek watershed is home to nearly 100,000 people and includes parts of Chester County, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware. The Pennsylvania portion still retains a rural character while the Delaware portion is more suburbanized. Sediment eroded from the rolling hills of Chester County is carried into the White Clay, probably accounting for the creek's name.

The majority of the stream is in the Piedmont region which is characterized by rolling hills, plateaus, and stream valleys. The southern portion of the stream, near Newark is in the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a relatively flat area that is dotted with large tidal wetlands. The White Clay Creek empties into the Christina River at Churchman’s Marsh.

East Branch

The East Branch, 13.5 miles (21.7 km) long, [2] arises near the hamlet of Upland in West Marlborough Township. Flowing southward, it passes through Avondale, where it is joined by Trout Run. From Avondale, the former Pomeroy and Newark Railroad, abandoned in 1939, follows the creek southward. Further south, after the confluence of Egypt Run, the creek begins to turn and meander in a narrow gorge, passing through Landenberg, formerly a mill town and the junction of the Pomeroy & Newark with the Wilmington and Western Railroad. Exiting the gorge into a broader valley, the creek receives Broad Run shortly after entering the White Clay Creek Preserve. It joins the main body of the White Clay Creek in the Preserve, at the lost community of Yeatman.

Middle Branch

The Middle Branch, 11.4 miles (18.3 km) long, [2] originates in Londonderry Township. Flowing southward along the western edge of West Grove, it turns east, south again, and then east again to meet Indian Run. Turning south, it cuts sharply through the hills near Chesterville and meets the West Branch to form the main stem.

West Branch

The West Branch, 8.0 miles (12.9 km) long, [2] rises near Kelton and flows south and east through New London Township, gradually turning to the east where it meets the Middle Branch to form the main stem.

Main stem

The main stem of White Clay Creek is formed by the junction of the West and Middle branches. From here, it enters a narrow valley and then the White Clay Creek Preserve, meeting the East Branch at Yeatman. It flows south through the White Clay Creek Preserve and enters New Castle County, Delaware and White Clay Creek State Park approximately 12 miles (19 km) west of Wilmington. Trails parallel the creek, some of them using parts of the Pomeroy & Newark roadbed, which follows the creek to the outskirts of Newark. The creek then turns away to the east, receiving Middle Run and Pike Creek. As it approaches the Christina estuary, the valley opens up, and it passes Delaware Park. Mill Creek flows into it, shortly followed by its largest tributary, Red Clay Creek. The conjoined streams turn southwest and then back to the east as they loop around Bread and Cheese Island, formed between the Red Clay, White Clay, and Hershey Run by a backchannel now filled. Just after passing the island, White Clay Creek enters the Christina approximately 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Wilmington at Churchman's Marsh.

History and ecology

The river's historical sites include lime kilns and 19th-century mills. Its lower course includes the most extensive Piedmont forests remaining in Delaware that are home to several key species, including the federally listed endangered bog turtle. In 2000, the United States Congress designated 190 miles (310 km) of White Clay Creek and its tributaries as part of the National Wild and Scenic River program. [3]

See also

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White Clay Creek Preserve

White Clay Creek Preserve is a 1,255-acre (508 ha) Pennsylvania state park along the valley of White Clay Creek in London Britain Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The park was donated by the DuPont Company in 1984 for the purpose of "preserving the diverse and unique plant and animal species, and the rich cultural heritage of the area". Dupont also donated an additional 528 acres (214 ha) for the adjoining White Clay Creek State Park to the state of Delaware. White Clay Creek Preserve is 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Newark, Delaware on Pennsylvania Route 896.

White Clay Creek State Park

White Clay Creek State Park is a Delaware state park along White Clay Creek on 3,647 acres (1,476 ha) in New Castle County, near Newark, Delaware in the United States. North of the park is Pennsylvania's White Clay Creek Preserve, and the two were originally operated as bi-state parks to jointly protect the creek, but now they operate separately. The White Clay Creek is federally protected as part of the National Park Service's National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. White Clay Creek State Park offers 37 miles (60 km) of nature and fitness trails which are open to hiking and mountain biking 365 days a year with access at a number of seasonal day-use fee parking lots. Fee season is in effect March 1 - November 30. Fees are $4 for in-state vehicle or $8 for out of state vehicles. Annual passes can be purchased at any DE State Park Office or online. The park also preserves a number of historic structures and operates a nature center. It is part of the Northeastern coastal forests ecoregion.

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  1. "ArcGIS Web Application". epa.maps.arcgis.com. US EPA. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 4 U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 1, 2011
  3. "White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic River Program". udel.edu.