From National Geographic's Drives of a Lifetime Series
A road trip through the Brandywine Valley offers a taste of American aristocracy. In the former country mansions of the ultrarich, travelers glimpse the early 20th-century extravagant lifestyle of a fascinating New World royalty. The du Ponts, one of the wealthiest American families, built estates graced by lovely gardens and filled with world-class art. E. I. du Pont, the first family member to leave France, came to America in 1800 and planted miniature fruit trees and other plants on a bluff overlooking the Brandywine River. His industrial innovations in making gunpowder resulted in a patent and a very prosperous business. Succeeding generations inherited his business and gardening genes, expanding into plastics and consumer products and creating extraordinary botanical collections.