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Places Reflecting America's Diverse Cultures
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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
New Jersey and Pennsylvania
Established for its natural beauty and recreational value, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area also contains within its boundaries a diverse variety of historic places. The park encompasses American Indian archeological sites, European colonial structures, and the remains of rural villages from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area can enjoy exploring these culturally diverse destinations, many of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Minisink Archeological Site, also known as the Minisink Historic District, is a National Historic Landmark. This historic district covers more than 1,320 acres of land extending to both banks of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and to Minisink Island, one of the largest islands in the river. Minisink was the most important settlement of the Munsee, who lived in the Middle and Upper Delaware Valley for much of the 17th and 18th centuries. The district is one of the most extensive, best preserved, and most intensively studied archeological locales in the Northeast. Excavations have uncovered information about Munsee burials and diet, and artifacts such as a copper kettle, a silver spoon, and thimbles that illustrate contact between American Indians and Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries. Throughout this period, colonists traded many goods with the Indians including brass kettles, iron axe-heads, and cloth, in return for animal pelts. Visitors to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area can hike the Minisink Historic District while on the Joseph M. McDade Recreational Trail, or take a canoe or kayak to Minisink Island to walk around.
By the mid 1600s, Europeans began to explore and settle the Delaware River Valley. One of the ways in which Europeans traversed the area was by following the Old Mine Road. The Old Mine Road, which visitors can still travel on today, was originally an Indian trail. The trail connected the Hudson River, Port Jervis, and Philadelphia areas, and eventually provided European and American settlers with an important route for trading goods and crops. As one of the first commercial highways in the United States, the Old Mine Road played a significant role in the development of the region, as did another Indian trail on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, named the River Road. The River Road linked the Philadelphia area to where Bethlehem, Nazareth, Stroudsburg, and Shawnee-on-Delaware are today.
These roads played a pivotal role in the development of the region. The Old Mine Road, for example, very likely played an important role in the early mining activities of the area.
As the European population in the area grew and communities became more settled, families such as the Rosenkrans and Van Campens constructed permanent stone houses, while others like the Dingmans established ferries to assist settlers in transporting much needed supplies, cattle, and crops across the Delaware River. Visitors can view the Isaac Van Campen Inn, a colonial stone farmhouse constructed around 1746, from an unpaved portion of the Old Mine Road or take tours of the inn on Sundays during the summer. The building, which never served as an inn in the commercial sense, often housed travelers according to the colonial law, which dictated that houses along major roadways in isolated areas had to provide a rest stop for travelers. The inn also provided settlers with protection against American Indian attacks during the French and Indian War and often served as officers’ quarters during the American Revolution.
Today, Millbrook Village contains a few of its original buildings and other historic buildings that were moved to the village from different locations throughout the valley. Together, these buildings depict village life in America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Original buildings, including the Lester Spangenburg Cabin, the George Trauger House and Barn, the hotel, the Sylvester Hill House, the Elias Garis House and Barn, and the school, are open to visitors in the summer and on other special days of the year. Volunteer craftspeople in period costumes demonstrate skills from this time period.
Walpack Center flourished during the mid-19th century and supplied neighboring farmers with the goods and services they were unable to provide for themselves. Situated in a landscape that is almost unaltered since the 19th century, the single short street of the village is flanked by a church, an old schoolhouse, a country store, and six small plain white frame houses. The Walpack Historical Society maintains an office and a small museum in the post office. The village's Main Street intersects NPS Rt. 615, which is about four miles south of Peters Valley New Jersey.