• Fulmer Falls at George W. Childs Park

    Delaware Water Gap

    National Recreation Area NJ,PA

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  • Hornbecks Creek Trail Partial Closure

    The trail is closed between the first and second waterfall; a portion of the trail has sloughed off, causing a hazardous condition. The first waterfall is accessible from the 209 trailhead and the second waterfall is accessible from Emory Road.

  • River Road Closure

    Starting on Monday, September 8, River Road will be closed from Park Headquarters to Smithfield Beach while contractors complete pavement repairs. Access to Smithfield Beach will still be possible. More »

Stories: Major Floods in the Park

HCflood2005

Seen from atop Raymondskill Cliff. farmlands along Rt. 209 in the park get a soaking.

Though destructive of life and property, floods also irrigate fields and enrich the soil by depositing river silt. From the time of the most ancient civilizations, people who farm river valleys have respected and even revered this power of rivers to regenerate the cycle of life.

The highest floods in recorded history of the valley are, in order: October 10, 1903 ... 35.50 ft. at Montague
August 18-19, 1955 (Diane) ... 35.15 ft. at Montague
June 29, 2006 ... 32.16 ft. at Montague
April 3, 2005 ... 31.60 ft. at Montague
September 18-19, 2004 (Ivan) ... 28.39 ft. at Montague.

 
HCflood1955

Bobbing through the Gap ... a house heads downstream past the I-80 bridge in 1955.

NPS Photo

In August of 1955, Hurricanes Connie and Diane slammed into the Poconos. Broadhead Creek rose 30 feet in 15 minutes, and 37 campers, mostly mothers and children, perished in Analomink. In all, 78 lives were lost. This is the flood that endured in the memory of those planning or opposing a dam.

The hurricane tragedies gave new drive to the longstanding proposal of damming the Delaware River to control its floods. Congress approved the takeover of thousands of acres of land, now set aside as this recreation area, to build a dam at Tocks Island and preserve buffer lands around the reservoir.

 
HCFlood1996

The road to the canoe launch at Smithfield  is littered with ice chunks.

Not all floods are summer hurricanes. In January of 1996 a series of winter weather changes first froze and jammed the Delaware River, and then thawed the ice jam and let the ice race downstream in chunks, some as large as pick-up trucks. At Smithfield, a dumpster eddied upstream 1/4 mile.

The first major flood since the park was formed this winter storm caused widespread damage to park facilities, some of them fairly new. The destruction that would have occurred had 40 years of development taken place in the valley can only be imagined.

 
Flood 2006 Bushkill Access

The restrooms at Bushkill Access go under up to the skylights in 2006.

In 2004, 2005, and 2006 three "100-year" floods hit the park. Archeological sites were inundated, streams leapt out of their banks to find new courses, roads were undercut, and some riverbank sites were scraped off the map. Each flood registered third highest in recorded valley history, but was then ousted from its position by the next flood.

Photos of the damage now spread easily about through digital images on the web. The three floods, and their picture galleries, became known in the park as "Ivan the Terrible" (2004), "The Spring Flood" (2005), and, fittingly, "Strike Three" (2006).

Did You Know?

A small steamboat passing a beach with rowboats

... that a century before this recreation area was formed, the Delaware Water Gap was touted as a Wonder of the World, and drew vacationers via rail lines from Philadelphia and New York City. There were trails to stroll, verandas for viewing the gap, and a steamboat for moonlight cruises. More...