• 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 »

  • Dingmans Falls Area and Road Closed

    Dingmans Falls Visitor Center, the boardwalk trail to the falls, and the access road will be closed through September as repairs to the road are made. We anticipate the area reopening in October.

x Tocks Island Dam Controversy

In August of 1955, Hurricanes Connie and Diane battered the eastern seaboard of the United States. In the Poconos, river and streams overflowed their banks; nearly 100 people lost thier lives on the banks of Broadhead Creek alone.

Congress responded quickly, commissioning the Army Corps of Engineers to dust off a 1930s river basin study and determine the viability of constructing dams and reservoirs along the Delaware, with one dam on the main stem of the river at the southern tip of Tocks Island.

The proposed Tocks Island Dam would have created a lake-sized reservoir roughly 40 miles long and a mile wide. Before building it, some 600 families and property owners whose land would be inundated had to be displaced. Some of these families had lived on and worked the land for centuries.

Also, to offset some of the cost of the project, the Army Corps rented some of the newly acquired properties for the short term. Those who had unwillingly sold their homes now saw their land and houses occupied by people from outside the valley.

It was a turbulent era: Vietnam, Civil Rights, Back to the Earth. Grassroots organizations of citizens, scientists, educators and legislators began to mobilize in a new and uniquely American struggle -- the Environmental Movement. Congress responded with the Clean Air and Water Acts, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

A few earnest voices against the dam in 1964 grew to a uproar by 1971. New studies challenged the wisdom of converting a beautiful river into a stagnant body of water. Decision-makers in the basin states recoiled at the studies' projected costs of expanding local infrastructure for a new recreation area that would attract so many millions to a previously quiet place.

In 1975, the Delaware River Basin Commission, composed of the four basin-state governors and one federally-appointed commissioner, voted to shelve the Tocks Island Dam project. The land already acquired by the federal government was handed over in its entirety to the National Park Service for stewardship, and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, originally intended as a narrrow swath of land around a reservoir, became a 70,000 acre park with 40 miles of protected free-flowing river.

Though it had promised drought abeyance, flood mitigation, power generation, and lake-based recreation, in the end, the project was deemed too costly. A long and often bitter battle had ended, and the modern era of environmental consciousness in government had begun.

 

More about the Tocks Island Dam Project

In the Beginning... CRM Magazine: Saved from the Dam (Vol. 25 No.3 2002)
In-Tocks-icated -- The Tocks Island Dam Project CRM Magazine: Saved from the Dam (Vol. 25 No.3 2002)

People Who Were There

Ruth Jones | Nancy Shukaitis | Nancy Shukaitis in her own

 

Did You Know?

A series of arm patches

... that Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area includes lands which once belonged to 5 New Jersey boy scout camps. Private and religious camps also flourished along the riverbanks that are now part of the park at sites such as Turn Farm PA, Coppermine Inn NJ, and Coppermine Hiking Area NJ. More...