Auburn Valley State Park officially Delaware's 17th state park

Yorklyn’s claim to fame broadened a little wider as Delaware dedicated its newest state park on a now-former preserve.

On Friday, Nov. 9, state and local officials cut the ribbon on the Auburn Valley State Park – once Auburn Valley Preserve, making the 300-plus acre site Delaware’s 17th state park.

The 366-acre park is part of the former Marshall Family estate, which includes the land, the Marshall Steam Museum (the largest collection of working steam cars in North America), and an 1890s-era Victorian mansion.

There is also a significant trail network that winds its way through the valley and connects such landmarks as the Steam Museum, the Center for the Creative Arts, and Dew Point Brewery, and extending into portions of adjacent Kennett Township, Pa.

The park space, which cuts a swath through the granite hills of the Yorklyn Valley, was acquired by the state through funding provided by the Delaware Open Space Program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and private donations.

Sen. Tom Carper said that the new park could help attract visitors to the area, helping boost Delaware’s $3.3 billion tourist industry.

Carper also thanked Tom and Ruth Marshall, who donated the land to the state in 2007, for their generosity and their vision for the land when it was still their property.

“Generations from now, when people come here and enjoy the beauty of this place, the tranquility of this place, the ambiance … they’re going to say, ‘who made this happen?’” he said. “And there are a lot of people who played a part in this.”

Gov. John Carney remarked that he had watched the transformation of the site, which includes portions of the former NVF plant site, closely over the years, calling it an “extraordinary” part of Delaware.

“If there’s a prettier site in the state, I haven’t visited there,” he said.

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control director Shawn Garvin said that the new park will help transform Yorklyn into the residential/commercial area envisioned by DNREC in partnership with private investors.

Not typically a man of few words, the 93-year-old visibly moved Tom Marshall had little to say at the dedication, calling it “wonderful” to see it come to fruition.

Krista Griffith, State Rep. Elect for District 12, said that she has watched the progress on the site keenly over the past year while campaigning for her seat.

“So many people were excited about this,” she said of the new park. “And with good reason – it’s tremendous, and it’s going to bring a lot people here to enjoy the beauty of the Auburn Valley.”

Greater Hockessin Area Development Association President Mark Blake said it was fantastic to finally see a major state park Northern Delaware.

“This park is just over the top,” he said. “This is exactly what decades of dedication takes … it’s going to become quite a destination.”

New Castle County Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick, District 3, said she worked with project manager Matt Chessar on the park concept dating back over a decade when she was working for the General Assembly.

“This has been a long time coming, but we’ve had two governors that have been really proactive in doing this,” she said. “Every year, we’ve seen something different.”

For more on Auburn Heights and the Auburn Valley State Park, visit auburnheights.org.