Fast folklore: ‘The Delaware Water Gap,’ by Charles Skinner

Posted 9/30/19

This story was published in the Fall 2019 edition of Upper Delaware Magazine.

This tale is one of several the famed Pennsylvanian folklorist Charles Skinner collected in his book, “Myths and …

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Fast folklore: ‘The Delaware Water Gap,’ by Charles Skinner

Posted

This story was published in the Fall 2019 edition of Upper Delaware Magazine.

This tale is one of several the famed Pennsylvanian folklorist Charles Skinner collected in his book, “Myths and Legends of Our Own Land—Volume 03: on and near the Delaware.” Many of the stories take place during the Revolutionary War and feature such tales as that of a farmer’s young son who commits parricide and becomes a Red Coat, only to kill his own father by the banks of the Wissahocken outside of Philadelphia. This tale takes place in the Minisink, and tells of Mount Tammany and Minsi on the Delaware Water Gap:

"The Indian name of this beautiful region, Minisink, 'the water is gone,' agrees with the belief of geologists that a lake once existed behind the Blue Ridge, and that it burst its way through the hills at this point. Similar results were produced by a cataclysm on the Connecticut at Mount Holyoke, on the Lehigh at Mauch Chunk, and Runaway Pond, New Hampshire, got its name by a like performance. The aborigines, whatever may be said against them, enjoyed natural beauty, and their habitations were often made in this delightful region, their councils being attended by chief Tamanend, or Tammany, a Delaware, whose wisdom and virtues were such as to raise him to the place of patron saint of America. The notorious Tammany Society of New York is named for him. When this chief became old and feeble his tribe abandoned him in a hut at New Britain, Pennsylvania, and there he tried to kill himself by stabbing, but failing in that, he flung burning leaves over himself, and so perished. He was buried where he died. It was a princess of his tribe that gave the name of Lover’s Leap to a cliff on Mount Tammany, by leaping from it to her death, because her love for a young European was not reciprocated."

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