Headwaters Of The Delaware

The Delaware, above the Lackawaxen, flows between massive cliffs in a deeply-cut gorge through the flagstones. At Mast Hope, years ago, was got the biggest pine tree ever cut on the Delaware for a vessel’s mast. The “Forest Lake Association,” another hunting- and fishing-club near here, has an extensive estate covering the high ridge between the Delaware and the Lackawaxen. At Big Eddy the river makes a sort of lake two miles long, of pure spring water, the widest and deepest part of the Delaware beyond tidewater. Stupendous cliffs contract the river above at the Narrows, where the village of Narrowsburg is built, and this region and the neighboring lake-strewn highlands of Sullivan County, New York, were the chief scenes of Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohicans. As we advance through its upper canyon, the Delaware grows gradually smaller, but the en-closing ridges recede and leave a broad and fertile valley. Here are the villages of Damascus and Cochecton, connected by a bridge, and having together probably a thousand inhabitants. The original Indian village was Cushatunk, meaning the ” lowlands,” and from this Cochecton is derived. It was the sad scene of various Indian forays and massacres before and during the Revolution. For many years lumbering and tanning were great industries in this region, but they have almost entirely passed away.

We are coming to the headwaters of the Delaware. At Hancock, elevated about nine hundred feet above tide, the Delaware divides. The Popacton, or east branch, comes in, the Mohock, or western branch, however, being the larger stream, and making the boundary between Pennsylvania and New York above their junction. These two branches, after flowing nearly parallel for a long distance across Delaware County, New York, separated by a broad mountain ridge about eleven miles wide, unite around the base of a great dome-like hill at Hancock, the spot having been appropriately named by the Indians Sho-ka-kin, or “where the waters meet.” Thirteen miles above is Deposit, at the New York boundary, where Oquaga Creek comes down from the mountains to the westward. This was formerly an important ” place of deposit ” for lumber, awaiting the spring freshets to be sent down the Delaware, and hence its name. High hills surround Deposit, the river makes a grand sweeping bend, and neary is the beautiful mountain lake of Oquaga, of which Taylor writes : “If there is a more restful place than this, outside ‘ God’s acres,’ I have failed to find it ;” adding, ” The mountain road to the lake is picturesque enough to lead to Paradise” The headwaters of the Delaware rise upon the western slopes of the Catskill Mountains in Delaware and Schoharie Counties, New York. The source is about two hundred and seventy miles almost directly north of Philadelphia. In a depression on the western slope of the Catskill range, at an elevation of eighteen hundred and eighty-eight feet above tidewater, is the head of the Delaware, Lake Utsyanthia, a secluded little sheet of the purest and most transparent spring water. It is also called Ote-se-on-teo, meaning the ” beautiful spring, cold and pure.’ It is a mirror of beauty in a wooded wilderness, its surroundings being most wild and picturesque. From this little lakelet flows out the Mohock, winding down its romantic valley, and receiving many brooks and rills, passing a village or two, and bubbling along for forty miles to De-posit, and thence onward as the great river Delaware to the ocean. Thus Tennyson sings of the Brook :

“I chatter, chatter, as I flow To join the brimming river, For man may come, and man may go, But I go on forever.”