RR logo

Front Page
Back Issues
Classified Ads
About Us


Coming back to center

Throughout its existence, the Upper Delaware River Valley has had a unique history and a clearly defined sense of place. The area, according to James Quinlan’s “History of Sullivan County,” enjoyed a large measure of prosperity following the construction of the Delaware and Hudson Canal in the 1800’s.

Indeed, The New York Times Travel Section recentlyshowcased a two-page spread on the D&H Canal. The article describes a three-day journey along the 160 miles of the gravity railroad and the D&H Canal from Carbondale, PA to Kingston, NY.

Beginning in Carbondale, where anthracite coal was mined, and ending in Kingston, where it was loaded onto boats for New York City, the article traces a journey along the D&H Canal, which operated from 1828 to 1898, where “time was measured in months” and man’s innovation with nature birthed gravity railroads and wire suspension aqueducts.

It describes present-day Honesdale, the end of the line of the gravity railroad that ran from Carbondale and the beginning of the actual canal, as “a vibrant town, with a handsome Main Street lined with stately banks, antique shops and homespun cafes.” Old stone churches, the article exclaims, built on land donated by the D&H Canal, grace the skyline. The story wends its way through Hawley and describes rich canal remnants including Kimbles, “a canal stop nearly deserted”—a place found by turning right at the Woodloch Pines sign in the northern woods of Pike County.

It tells the story of the building of the Roebling Bridge at Lackawaxen, and the canal’s entry into Sullivan County and onto Port Jervis. It navigates through Orange County and then again through Sullivan County and finally to Ulster County at the Hudson. Along the way, it encounters the Hawks Nest, “a spectacular stretch reminiscent of the Rhine Valley, leading into historic Port Jervis.” Touching on history lessons about the Neversink Valley Area Museum and the D&H Canal Park in Cuddebackville, it moves eastward onto and through the Basha Kill wetlands and Sullivan County’s Delaware and Hudson Canal Linear Park. Finally it reaches the Hudson at Kingston. From there, it’s all downriver to New York City.

The article—the trip—is a retracing of the area’s heritage and an outline of its future.

This particular article bodes well for us. It clearly defines the Upper Delaware’s pristine beauty, warm and open communities and unique quiet glimpse into life before the technological evolution.

And with it, our gift then becomes our challenge. How will we preserve this rich heritage, the pristine environment and warmth of our communities as we prepare for the onslaught of visitors, entrepreneurs and those who seek to make money from the abundance of natural capital our area has to offer?

Perhaps there is wisdom from history.

Quinlan, in his description of the formation of the Town of Highland, writes in 1893, “The same causes which retarded the growth and prosperity of Lumberland and Tusten have had their logical effect here. In early times, the population consisted of lumbermen, who were employed by non-resident owners to strip the town of its valuable timber, and convert it as expeditiously and cheaply as possible into cash. If the profits of the business had been retained in the town, and expended for improvements, the value and importance of Highland would have been enhanced in a degree which we cannot now estimate.”

Which is to say that we, as a collective whole encompassing residents on both sides of the river, need to act to ensure that those invaluable assets—trees, clean water, wildlife and quiet—are preserved and protected. We need to heed the new-found wisdom of the technological world that tells us that the preservation of our natural capital is our best bet for economic prosperity.

We need to support our town boards, planning boards and zoning board of appeals with the message that careful development, use of innovation in preserving green space and enhancement of our cultural heritage is essential to our future.

We are fortunate here, as our path is clearly delineated and defined for us. We do not need to reinvent ourselves to be attractive. We need only to ensure that our actions and decisions, in regard to development and our environment, are based on sound principles which emerge from and sustain our precious history.

The lessons of history are the future, and the present is now. Let your voices be heard in the preservation and protection of the uniqueness of the Upper Delaware River Valley.

Laurie Stuart, Editor

What do you think? Talk about it on the discussion board!

  Front Page| Current Issue| Back Issues| Search
Problems? Comments? Contact the Webmaster.
Entire contents © 2002 by the author(s) and Stuart Communications, Inc.