The Delaware is indeed wild–no dams, a long tidal reach, and reckless eddies. The stretch of the river from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania northeast to Port Jervis, New York, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, has been designated part of the “National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.”
The Delaware is the longest un-dammed river in the eastern United States, and it’s pretty wild even as far downstream as Philadelphia–spring freshet washes out roads and homes in the New Hope area every year. After devastating hurricanes in 1955, the US Army Corps of Engineers proposed to build a dam at Tock’s Island. (Mislabeled as “Cock’s Island” in the center of this topographic map from Herbert Welsh’s day.)
Talk of the Tocks Island Dam went on for twenty years, in 1975 the plans were finally filed away and abandoned. “Though it had promised drought abeyance, flood mitigation, power generation, and lake-based recreation, in the end, the project was deemed too costly.”
It’s thought of as an early victory for the environmentalists, but note that the official story blames its high cost. We do not, for the most part, protect our wild rivers because they are scenic. They remain wild as long as they can’t be monetized.
Walking here in 1915, Herbert Welsh “traveled a broad, good automobile road, but not many machines passed going north or south.” The scenic charm of the Delaware Water Gap escaped him somehow. I will be traveling the full thirty miles of the Joseph MacDade Recreational Trail, where I will be paying attention to wildness that is the preservation–if only preservation by neglect–of the world.