Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River: Zane Grey Museum

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The National Park Service manages the stretch of the Delaware from Hancock to Sparrowbush, NY…about 73 miles…under the Wild and Scenic River System. The Upper Delaware is considered recreational, rather than wild, since the park has some means to control the flow of the water.

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I attended a meet-up here with the National Park Travelers Club for a ranger-guided tour of the area. After touring Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct with the ranger (see that post here), our group headed over to the Zane Grey Museum, about a quarter-mile from the bridge on the Pennsylvania side of the river.

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Zane Grey, actually born Pearl Grey because of his mother’s fixation with the British Royals (Pearl Grey was the official mourning color that year in England,) is considered the Father of the Western Novel.

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He played baseball as a young man which earned him a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania’s dentistry school. He established a dental practice in NYC in 1899, but his enthusiasm for fly-fishing and the encouragement of his wife Dolly led him to move to his farmhouse in Lackawaxen, PA to pursue writing as a profession.

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He was a prolific writer, having written over 100 novels in his lifetime. His most noted work was Riders of the Purple Sage, published in 1912. His writing was heavily influenced by his travels to the Western states, the first trip having been his honeymoon to the Grand Canyon.

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Grey moved his family to California in 1918, where he worked with the developing motion picture industry. Many early films were based on his novels and birthed the Western genre.

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After Zane Grey’s death, his wife sold the Lackawaxen home to a family friend.

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For 25 years, she ran it as the Zane Grey Inn and then later converted it to a museum showcasing Zane Grey memorabilia.

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In 1989, the museum was purchased by the NPS and included in the Upper Delaware unit.

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Location: Lackawaxen, PA

Designation: National Scenic & Recreational River

Date designated or established: 1978 river, 1989 museum

Date of my visit: 7/18/2018

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The two rangers stationed in the Zane Grey Museum were nice enough to provide a wide array of stamps for our National Park Passports and take a group photo for us. (I’m on the right, end of the second row in the light blue shirt, behind the lady with the red shirt.)

Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River: Estelle Manor

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Welcome back to National Parks with T! As our nation mourns the passing of George H.W. Bush this week, it seems fitting to showcase one of the 14 National Park Service units designated during his presidency. Rip, 41.

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The Great Egg Harbor river was designated a National Scenic and Recreational river in 1992. It is a unit of the National Park Service but the park service shares the administration of the area with state and county parks. This was my 75th NPS unit visited…343 more to go 🙂

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Great Egg Harbor and the river got their name from the Dutch Explorer who discovered the harbor. When he sailed into the inlet, he called it Egg Harbor because of the abundance of water fowl eggs on the shores. It is considered one of the top places in the country for birding.

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I stopped at the Warren E Fox Nature Center in Estelle Manor Atlantic County Park to visit this unit. In the nature center, I was able to get my national passport stamp and see some of the local wildlife native to the area (both stuffed and live.)

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I took the 1.8 mile boardwalk trail from behind the nature center to a view of the river. The boardwalk was slick with wet leaves and pine needles, but I managed not to fall on my butt. Even if I had, there would have been no one to witness it.

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Along the way were the ruins of the Bethlehem Loading Company. The Bethlehem Loading facilities were built during World War I to produce munitions.

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At about one and a 1/2 miles down the trail, there was a bump out with a wide view of the South Branch of the Great Egg Harbor river. The river is 55 miles long and travels through the NJ Pinelands National Reserve.

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I continued on the boardwalk trail, following the signs pointing towards an artesian well. That turned out to be a pipe trickling out water near the ruins of the Bethlehem Loading Company Power Plant (scroll down for a video.) Nearby was the Smith-Ireland Cemetery which has graves dating back to the 1800s.

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At this point, I could hear a lot of shouting off in the woods and so I turned back and retraced my steps along the peaceful river walk. Because of its significance in WWI industry, Estelle Manor was named a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

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Location: 109 NJ-50, Mays Landing, NJ 08330

Designation: National Scenic & Recreational River

Date designated or established: 10/27/1992

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018

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Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River: Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The National Park Service manages the stretch of the Delaware from Hancock to Sparrowbush, NY…about 73 miles…under the Wild and Scenic River System. The Upper Delaware is considered recreational, rather than wild, since the park has some means to control the flow of the water.

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Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct/Bridge on the Upper Delaware is also maintained by the NPS. It is the oldest wire suspension bridge in the US and was built by John A. Roebling, who is best known for building the Brooklyn Bridge.

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The Delaware Aqueduct used the same engineering principles as the Brooklyn Bridge.

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I attended a meet-up here with the National Park Travelers Club. The NPTC has about 2000 paid members nationwide, all who share a passion for visiting the 417 NPS units.  The club had arranged for a park ranger to give our group a tour of the bridge and The Zane Grey museum.

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The Aqueduct was built to carry the Delaware and Hudson Canal across the Delaware River. The canal was built in 1828 to carry coal from mines in Northeastern Pennsylvania to New York City. The canal was abandoned in 1898 when the railroad became a more efficient means of transportation.

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Our tour began at the D&H Towpath Trail on the New York side of the river. The towpath was once used by mules to help the canal boats move downstream. It now passes under the bridge and past the remnants of a half-mile stretch of the old canal.

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Next we followed the ranger past the old toll house, which now is a museum with displays about life on the canal.

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We crossed the bridge on the southern pedestrian walk and returned on the northern walk trying to imagine what it had looked like when it was filled with water.  (Scroll to the end for a short video clip.)

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When the park purchased the bridge, they restored it to its original appearance, except for the concrete road bed installed to safely accommodate a single lane of traffic. It had already been converted from aqueduct to bridge sometime after the abandonment of the canal, but the road was made of timbers. These had rotted out and actually collapsed under the weight of a truck crossing the bridge.

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At each display, the ranger paused to point out features like the steel cable used to suspend the bridge and the ice breakers designed to protect the structure from ice floes in the spring.

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Back on the New York side of the river, the ranger pointed out some ruins across the street that were from the old canal. State highway 97 follows the path the canal once took, parallel to the Delaware River.

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Location: Lackawaxen, PA

Designation: National Scenic & Recreational River

Date designation declared: 1978

Date of my visit: 7/18/2018

Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! Today is National Public Lands Day and this year’s theme is Resilience and Restoration. It is a fee-free day for most parks, so get out and find your park.

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The Middle Delaware is a National Park Service unit contained within another NPS unit, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Wild & Scenic Rivers System was established 50 years ago and protects nearly 13 thousand miles of US rivers. These protected areas are managed by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish & Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service.

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I began my exploration of the Middle Delaware at the Kittatinny Point Visitors Center, right off Route 80 in Columbia, NJ. There, I was able get some pins, look at a map and speak to a ranger about places to go in the park. There is a beach behind the visitors center with a great view of the Delaware Water Gap.

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A water gap is formed when water carves a path through a mountain range. In Earth’s ancient history, the North American and African continents collided, creating the Kittatinny Ridge. Streams flowing on one side of the ridge scoured a channel over the course of millions of years and became the Delaware River.

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I traveled upriver on Old Mine Road, a narrow road with scary potholes and numerous pull-outs for trailheads and river access. I stopped first at a small pull-out and walked a little way on a level trail that parallels the river. There are some big old trees here.

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Next I stopped at Turtle Beach, but didn’t get out because the lot was deserted except for one run down vehicle and I couldn’t see to the river or the road from there. Maybe next time. A little further north, I found Poxono.

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Poxono has a boat launch and used to be a Boy Scout camp. There were a few vehicles here, but most of the people were out fishing on the river. I got right down to the water’s edge and had some terrific, unobstructed views of the river.

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Location: 85 Mercer Rd, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: 40 miles of the Delaware river, Delaware Water Gap, PA to Milford, PA

Date designation declared: 11/10/1978

Date of my visit: 6/3/2018

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View downstream of Poxono
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Poxono, an island in the middle of the Delaware River.

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