Backstory

This old growth woodland is a rare remnant of the now near-relic native Inner Coastal Plain forest as it existed in Whitman’s time. Today, bald eagles forage and fish daily from the site intended to become “Whitman Woods.” Area residents and their children similarly seek out this wooded oasis for the sheer joy of being outdoors in actual woods.

Whitman Woods Blue VioletFor more than 40 years, the community has considered this private land a passive park in all but name. Among other compelling reasons for preserving it as open space, the lakefront acreage would formally provide area residents and visitors with the only public lake access along the entire perimeter of Laurel Lake (with the exception of street terminus points). Owned since 1925 by the same family, the land is now held in a private irrevocable trust that is being dissolved.

North American Land Trust’s unique ability to creatively rescue land presents an organic opportunity for the Delaware River Valley community to help establish 3+ acres of critical open space distinguished by history, conservation, culture and community.

“Come, ye disconsolate, in whom any latent eligibility is left — come get the sure virtues of creek-shore, and wood and field. Two months have I absorb’d them, and they begin to make a new man of me.”

It is widely acknowledged that Whitman penned much of his powerful, enduring work in Laurel Springs over the last decade of his life, writing Specimen Days in this locale and drawing inspiration for significant additions to Leaves of Grass. The joy he took in walking the banks of Laurel Lake — “the prettiest lake in America or Europe” — and the beauty of the woods, lake and springs is also described in his effusive letters written to European friends and others. Forging a cultural/conservation Whitman legacy will pay homage to the immortal poet whose words so eloquently celebrate Nature.

Viola sororia (common blue violet) photograph by Joseph Arsenault