Delaware – The Minisink

From the elevated points of outlook at the Water Gap the observer can gaze northward over the fertile and attractive hunting-grounds of the Minsis, the land of the Minisink stretching far up the Delaware, and from the Kittatinny over to the base of the Pocono Mountain. This is the region of the ” buried valleys,” remarkable trough-like valleys, made during an ancient geological period, and partially filled up by the débris from the great glacier. From the Hudson River in New York, southwest to the Lehigh, and just beyond the Kittatinny range, two long valleys, with an intervening ridge, stretch across the country. The Delaware River, from Port Jervis to Bushkin, flows down the northwestern of these valleys, then doubles back on itself, and breaks through the intervening ridge at the remarkable Walpack Bend into the other valley, and follows it down to the Water Gap. The northwestern valley begins at Rondout on the Hudson, crosses New York State to Port Jervis, where the Delaware, coming from the north-west, turns to the southeast into it, occupying it for thirty miles to Bushkill, and then the valley continues past Stroudsburg, just above the Water Gap, to the Lehigh River at Weissport, below Mauch Chunk. The other valley is parallel to it at the base of the Kittatinny. These valleys, underlaid y the shales as bed-rocks, have been filled up with drift y the glacier from one hundred to seven hundred feet in depth, and they constitute the famous region of the Minisink.

In this fertile district was the earliest settlement made y white men in Pennsylvania, the Dutch from the Hudson River wandering over to the Delaware at Port Jervis through these valleys, and settling on the prolific bottom lands along the river, many years be-fore Penn came to Philadelphia. They opened copper-mines in the Kittatinny, just above the Water Gap, and made the old “Mine Road” to reach them, coming from Esopus on the Hudson. The records at Albany of 1650 refer to specimens brought from “a copper-mine at the Minisink.” The Provincial authorities at Philadelphia do not appear to have had any clear knowledge of settlers above the Water Gap until 1729, when they sent a surveyor up to examine and report, and he found Nicholas Depui in a snug home, where he had bought two islands and level land on the shore from the Indians some time before. Like the Dutch settlers above, Depui had no idea where the river went to. He was a French Huguenot exile from Holland, and, without disputing with the surveyor, he again bought his land, nearly six hundred and fifty acres, in 1733, from the grantees of the Penns. His stockaded stone house was known as Depui’s Fort, and after him the Water Gap was long called ” Depui’s Gap.” Old George La Bar was the most famous resident of the Water Gap. Three hrothers La Bar, Peter, Charles and Abraham, also French Huguenots, lived near the Gap, and each married a Dutch wife. In 1808, however, this region became too crowded for them, and Peter, at the age of eighty-five, migrated to Ohio to get more room. When ninety-eight years old his wife died, and in his one hundredth year he married another out on the Ohio frontier, and lived to the ripe age of one hundred and five. Peter, when he migrated, left his son George La Bar at the Gap, where he had been born in 1763. George was the famous centenarian of Pennsylvania, who died at the age of one hundred and seven, being a vigorous axeman almost until the day of his death. He was too young for a Revolutionary soldier, but when the War of 1812 came he was too old. In 1869, at the age of one hundred and six, a visitor describes him as felling trees and peeling with his own hands three wagon-loads of bark, which went to the tannery. He never wore spectacles, always used tobacco, voted the straight Democratic ticket, and at every Presidential election from Washington to Grant, and could not be persuaded to ride on a railway train, regarding the cars as an innovation.

In this region of the Minisink is the pleasant town of Stroudsburg, the county-seat of Monroe, its beautiful valley being well described y a local authority as ” full of dimpling hills and fine orchards, among which stalwart men live to a ripe old age upon the purest apple whisky.” Its finest building, the State Normal College, handsomely located on an elevated ridge, has three hundred students. The town was named for Jacob Stroud, a pioneer and Indian fighter, who was with General Wolfe when he scaled the Heights of Abraham, and, capturing Quebec, changed the map of Colonial America. Marshall’s Creek comes down to join its waters with Brodhead’s Creek below Stroudsburg, and a few miles above displays the pretty little cataract of Marshall’s Falls. Six miles northwest of Stroudsburg is the Pocono Knob, rising in stately grandeur as it abruptly terminates the Pocono Mountain wall on its eastern face. It was this Knob which stood out as an island in the edge of the great glacier, a deep notch separating its summit from the plateau behind, and the Terminal Moraine encircles its sides at about two-thirds its height. In the river bottom lands are fertile farms, and a great deal of tobacco is raised. Thus the river leads us to Bushkill and the great Walpack Bend. The Delaware, coming from the northeast, impinges upon the solid sandstone wall of the ” Hog’s Back,” the prolongation of the ridge dividing the two “Buried Valleys.” This ridge bristles with attenuated firs, and hence its appropriate name. The Big Bushkill and the Little Bushkill Creeks, uniting, flow in from the west, and the Delaware turns sharply eastward and then back upon itself around the ridge into the other valley, and resumes its course south-west again down to the Water Gap. This double Walpack curve, making a perfect letter “S,” is so narrow and compressed that a rifleman, standing on either side, can readily send his bullet in a straight line across the river three times. The Indian word Walpack means ” a turn hole.” The Delaware here is a succession of rifts and pools, making a constant variation of rapids and still waters, with many spots sacred to the angler, and displaying magnificent scenery as the lights and shadows pass across the beautiful forest-covered hills enclosing its banks.