December 06, 2004

Delaware Water Gap

On Sunday, I was very near the Delaware Water Gap, a place probably not so very well known to those outside that area and so I thought I might write about it a little bit. Besides, having merely driven through it myself a couple of times, I wanted an excuse to learn more about it myself. Here is a nice view of it:


First, the DWP is a national park:

This park preserves 40 miles of the middle Delaware River and almost 70,000 acres of land along the river's New Jersey and Pennsylvania shores. At the south end of the park, the river cuts eastward through the Appalachian Mountains at the scenic Delaware Water Gap. A one-day auto tour of the park can include waterfalls, rural scenery, and historic Millbrook Village. Visitors can also canoe, hike, camp, swim, picnic, bicycle, crosscountry ski, and horseback ride. Fishing and hunting are permitted in season with state licenses.

Secondly, there is significant evidence of pre-historic habitation in the park.

Archeologists began their surveys in 1959, and by the mid 1960s, recognized that this area offered a rich and well preserved record of prehistoric occupation, beginning with the Paleo-Indian, the earliest known culture in the New World. Current theory suggests that during the Wisconsin glaciation period, 23,000 to 12,000 B.C., a land bridge existed between Asia and Alaska, vanishing around 8,000 B.C. Hunter-gatherers migrated across this land bridge following herds of caribou and other large mammals. This culture is recognized archeologically by distinctive fluted projectile points which are most commonly found in eastern North America as isolated finds. Three archeological sites within the recreation area contain evidence of this culture.

Later, this part of the country was an important fortified frontier during the French and Indian wars and during the revolutionary war. In 1758, the New Jersey legislature created the Military Trail of 16 fortified forts to protect against raids. The trail is still visible and used today. There's even a trail guide.

Here is a much more extensive monograph on the history of the DWG region.

You can get a sense of the eco-system at this comprehensive link. Unfortunately, this material concerning the Delaware River makes no mention of the recent oil spill "where up to 473,500 gallons of crude oil flowed out of a six-foot gash in the bottom of a tanker bound for a New Jersey refinery recently".

The DWG is part of a network in New Jersey called the Skylands, a "five-county region contains two national parks at its edges, 60,000 acres of state parkland, and a diverse and beautiful geography filled with lakes, rivers and picturesque hills dotted with farms."

This actually looks like a really fun place to go explore more. I'm glad I took the time to check it out here.

Posted by Random Penseur at December 6, 2004 09:52 AM

I used to canoe the DWG when I went to summer camp. It was my favorite trip each year.

If that picture is where I think it is, when you went around the bend in the river and looked up and to your left, the rock formation looked like an Indian Chief's profile. It was pretty cool.

Posted by: Howard at December 6, 2004 03:41 PM

Ms. Mandalei and I just drove through the water gap yesterday on our way back from Pittsburgh. It's one of the big markers on my at-least-annual trip from the east coast to Michigan to go see family, and I too have always wanted to explore it a bit more. Maybe this spring...

Posted by: Ben at December 13, 2004 11:02 AM
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