The History Of Bowmans Tower

You can find tons of local legends and history in Bucks County, east Pennsylvania. At the top of Bowman’s Hill there is a tall tower made of stone, and a number of those legends can be found here. Legends of Captain Kidd the pirate, George Washington, the secret grave of a local doctor, and even buried treasure.

Bowman’s Hill commands an excellent view of the Delaware River and surroundings, and Bowman’s Hill Tower can be found at its summit. It was constructed between 1929 and 1931 as part of a work initiative for local Pennsylvanians. It was made in honor of the spot around five miles down the river where Washington crossed the river with his troops in 1776, in the buildup to the Battle of Trenton.

All true so far, but things are very vague about whether Washington had anything to do with the tower, and also about where the hill gets its name from.

A good time before the arrival of Washington’s troops, the hill was possibly home to a Mr. John Beaumont (Bowman), or possibly to Thomas Bowman, an English merchant. Two different John Bowmans are also a possibility, one a friend of a first settler, and one a doctor who was supposedly the ship surgeon for Captain Kidd, the pirate. You can imagine which of these stories became the most popular.

The story has it that Dr. John Bowman set sail on a British ship in 1696 with Captain Kidd. The ship was dispatched to tackle pirates in the Indian Ocean, which was a very difficult and poorly paid job. Captain Kidd decided that it would be much more profitable to become a pirate himself and so he joined up with them instead, along with Bowman, who chose eastern Pennsylvania for his retirement after his time as a pirate. He constructed a cabin at the base of the hill, and rumor has it that he is buried there along with plenty of pirate treasure. Legend has it that if you ask him what killed him as you lie on his grave, he will reply with ‘nothing.’

There are also other rumors about burials on the hill, including those of soldiers from the Revolutionary War who were victims of Hessian mercenaries. It’s entirely possible that some of the oldest stones that are on the hill could be their gravestones, and legend has it that you can still hear their cries.

Built completely out of local stone, Bowman’s Tower has a height of 125 feet. It has an elevator that can bring you up 75% of the way, but in order to be rewarded with the full view, you’ll have to climb the remaining 23 steps yourself. It’s quite a tight squeeze on the spiral staircase, and dark too, but the view is definitely worth it.

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