CHADDS FORD, Pa. (WHTM) — The Brandywine quietly flows south at Chadds Ford Township, Delaware County.

People just can’t seem to decide whether the Brandywine is a river or a creek. Over the years it’s been called both. A lot of people seem to have gotten tired of arguing about it and now just call it the Brandywine.

Whatever you call it, it’s definitely a tributary; it flows into the Christina River at Wilmington, Delaware. (The Christina is itself a tributary, flowing into the Delaware River about a mile further downstream.)

At the point where this video was shot, just south of US Route 1, the creek/river is the boundary line between Delaware and Chester Counties, all the way down to the border with Delaware.

Just upstream of Wilmington, the creek (it’s called a creek on Delaware maps) crosses the Atlantic Seaboard Fall Line, aka the Fall Zone, where the hilly Piedmont part of North America meets the relatively flat Atlantic Coastal Plain. (Think of the Fall Line as an eroded 900-mile-long cliff.) From an elevation of about 160 feet above sea level at Chadds Ford, it drops in a few miles to just a smidge above sea level at Wilmington.

The energy produced by that drop made a lot of water-powered industries possible — flour mills, paper mills (which provided paper for Benjamin Franklin’s printing business, as well as the sheets on which the Declaration of Independence was printed), textile mills, and gunpowder mills.

(Today’s Fact You Won’t Be Able to Get Out Your Head No Matter How Hard You Try: the gunpowder mill buildings had three strong stone walls and one lightweight wood wall facing the Brandywine. If an explosion happened, the wooden wall would blow out over the water, guiding the blast away from other buildings in the area.)

On Sept. 11, 1777, the most famous event to take place along the waterway happened: the Battle of Brandywine. George Washington and his Continental Army tried to stop a British advance on Philadelphia but got outflanked and were forced to retreat. (Several steps and missteps later, the Continental Congress was meeting in York.) The battlefield is now a state park.

In the early 1900s, the area along the Brandywine from Chadds Ford to Wilmington became home to an artists’ colony known as the Brandywine School. Started by artist and “Father of American Illustration” Howard Pyle, artists of the Brandywine movement created some of the most iconic pieces of art of the 20th century (including the murals at the State Capitol). You can see many of these works at the Brandywine Museum of Art, just off Route 1 in Chadds Ford, and a short stroll down the path from where this video was shot.

Today, the Brandywine is lined with parks and walking, hiking, and riding trails. It’s a popular location for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing — and just getting away from it all.