Tohickon Creek – The Narrows And The Forks

The Tohickon Creek, the chief stream of Bucks County, flows into the Delaware at Point Pleasant, its Indian name of Tohick-hanne meaning “the stream crossed by a drift-wood bridge.” Here in the river are many rapids or “rifts,” some having been given curious names by the early raftsmen who used to ” shoot ” them—such as the ” Buck Tail rift,” the ” Cut Bite rift,” the “Man-of-War rift,” the “Ground Hog rift,” and the “Old Sow rift.” The river makes many sweeping curves in passing through the gorges, and it displays the Nockamixon Rocks or “Pennsylvania Palisades,” a series of about three miles of beetling crags, of rich red and brown sandstone, rising four hundred feet, almost perpendicularly, and making a grand gorge known as the Narrows. The ridge which the river thus bisects is known as Rock Hill in Pennsylvania, and across in New Jersey stretches away to the northeast as the Musconetcong Mountain. Above, the Musconetcong River, the Indian “rapid runner,” flows in at Reigelsville, a town on both sides of the Delaware. This was the Indian village of Pechequeolin in the early eighteenth century, where iron works, the first on the Delaware, were started in 1727, famous for making the “Franklin” and “Adam and Eve” stoves that were so popular among our ancestors, the latter bearing in bold relief a striking representation of our first parents in close consultation with the serpent. Just above, the Delaware comes out through the massive gorge of the Durham Hills or South Mountain, north of which the Lehigh River flows in from the southwest amid iron mills and slag heaps, with numerous bridges bringing the various Lehigh coal railways across from Easton to Phillips.. burg. This is the confluence with the Lehigh, known in early times as the “Forks of the Delaware.” To this place the Lenni Lenapes often came to treat and trade with the Penns, and a town was founded there when John Penn was the Proprietor. He was then a newly-married man, and had courted his bride, a daughter of Lord Pomfret, at her father’s English country-house of Easton in Northamptonshire. So the new town was called Easton and the county Northampton, at the junction of the Delaware with the Indian Lechwiechink, signifying “where there are forks.” This name was shortened to Lecha, and afterwards became the Lehigh. The two towns literally hang upon the hillsides, Mount Parnassus looking down upon Phillipsburg, named after the old chief Phillip, who had the original village there, while Easton is compressed between the South Mountain and the long ridge of Chestnut Hill, rising seven hundred feet, where the Paxinosa Inn recalls the sturdy Paxanose, the last of the Shawnee kings who lived east of the Alleghenies. Through these towns and across the bridges spanning the Delaware roll constant processions of coal trains bringing the anthracite out from the Lehigh and Wyoming coalfields to market.

Easton dates from 1737 and has about fifteen thousand people, but its growth did not come until the coal trade was developed. The Lehigh Canal started this, and upon it Asa Packer was a boat-man before the railway era, and carried goods for the industrious Frenchman, Ario Pardee, who then had a mill and store at Hazleton, back in the. interior. These were the two leaders in developing the Lehigh coal trade. The chief institution of Easton is Lafayette College, a Presbyterian foundation, its main building being Pardee Hall, a gift of Ario Pardee. It is largely a school of the mine, and is devoted to that branch of scientific research. Here often came the famous Teedyuscung, the eloquent sachem of the Lenni Lenapes, who, in the councils at the “Forks,” pleaded for his people’s rights. The last remnant of his tribe, having been pressed farther and farther towards the setting sun, now live as the “Delaware Indians” out in Oklahoma, there being barely ninety of them, where Hon. Charles Journeycake, at last advices, was the “King of the Delawares,” the successor of Teedyuscung and of St. Tammany. Phillipsburg was originally settled by Dutch, and its prosperity was based chiefly on the Morris Canal, which crossed New Jersey through Newark to New York harbor, a work since abandoned for transportation purposes. It was a wonderful canal in its day, crossing mountain ranges of nine hundred feet. This was made possible by the high elevation of Lake Hopatcong, which furnished most of the water for the levels. While some of the elevations were overcome by locks, the greater ones were mounted by inclined planes up which the boats were drawn, the machinery of the planes being worked by water-power taken from the higher canal levels. Its chief usefulness now is the supply of water to Newark, the descent from Lake Hopatcong on that side being nine hundred and fourteen feet. This beautiful lake, supplied with the purest spring water, is nine miles long and about four miles wide, dotted with islands, its rock-bound shores encompassed by surrounding mountains giving charming scenery. Small steamboats navigate it, and the name Hopatcong means ” Stone over the Water,” referring to an artificial causeway of stone the Indians had, connecting with one of the islands, but which is now submerged.