The Delaware River

From Main Street Museum Catalog Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It drains an area of Template:Convert in five U.S. statesNew York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Rising in two branches in New York state's Catskill Mountains, the river flows Template:Convert into Delaware Bay where its waters enter the Atlantic Ocean near Cape May in New Jersey and Cape Henlopen in Delaware. Not including Delaware Bay, the river's length including its two branches is Template:Convert.<ref>The main stem from Hancock, New York to the head of Delaware Bay is 301|mi. The Delaware River is one of nineteen "Great Waters" recognized by the America's Great Waters Coalition.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref>

The Delaware River rises in two main branches that descend from the western flank of the Catskill Mountains in New York. The West Branch begins near Mount Jefferson in the Town of Jefferson in Schoharie County. The river's East Branch begins at Grand Gorge near Roxbury in Delaware County. These two branches flow west and merge near Hancock in Delaware County, and the combined waters flow as the Delaware River south. Through its course, the Delaware River forms the boundaries between Pennsylvania and New York, the entire boundary between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and most of the boundary between Delaware and New Jersey. The river meets tide-water at the junction of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, and Trenton, New Jersey, at the Falls of the Delaware. The river's navigable, tidal section served as a conduit for shipping and transportation that aided the development of the industrial cities of Trenton, Camden, and Philadelphia. The mean freshwater discharge of the Delaware River into the estuary of Delaware Bay is Template:Convert.

Before the arrival of European settlers, the river was the homeland of the Lenape Native Americans. They called the river Lenapewihittuk, or Lenape River, and Kithanne, meaning the largest river in this part of the country.<ref>Template:Cite</ref>

In 1609, the river was first visited by a Dutch East India Company expedition led by Henry Hudson. Hudson, an English navigator, was hired to find a western route to Cathay (present-day China), but his discoveries set the stage for Dutch colonization of North America in the 17th century. Early Dutch and Swedish settlements were established along the lower section of river and Delaware Bay. Both colonial powers called the river the South River, compared to the Hudson River, which was known as the North River. After the English expelled the Dutch and took control of the New Netherland colony in 1664, the river was renamed Delaware after Sir Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and the Virginia colony's first royal governor who defended the colony during the First Anglo-Powhatan War.

Origin of the name

File:3rdLordDeLaWarr.jpg
Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr

The Delaware River is named in honor of Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (1577–1618), an English nobleman and the Virginia colony's first royal governor who defended the colony during the First Anglo-Powhatan War.<ref name="DNB">Template:Cite DNB</ref> Lord de la Warr waged a punitive campaign to subdue the Powhatan after they had killed the colony's council president, John Ratcliffe, and attacked the colony's fledgling settlements.<ref></ref><ref></ref> Lord de la Warr arrived with 150 soldiers in time to prevent colony's original settlers at Jamestown from giving up and returning to England and is credited with saving the Virginia colony.<ref name="DNB" /> The name of barony (later an earldom) is pronounced as in the current spelling form "Delaware" (Template:IPAc-en Template:Respell)<ref>Random House Dictionary</ref> and is thought to derive from French de la Guerre.

It has often been reported that the river and bay received the name "Delaware" after English forces under Richard Nicolls expelled the Dutch and took control of the New Netherland colony in 1664.<ref>World Digital Library. Articles about the Transfer of New Netherland on the 27th of August, Old Style, Anno 1664. Retrieved March 21, 2013</ref><ref>Versteer, Dingman (editor). "New Amsterdam Becomes New York" in The New Netherland Register. Volume 1 No. 4 and 5 (April/May 1911): 49-64.</ref> However, the river and bay were known by the name Delaware as early as 1641.<ref>Evelin, Robert. A direction for Adventurers With small stock to get two for one, and good land freely : And for Gentleman, and all Servants, Labourers, and Artificers to live plentifully, And the true Description of the healthiest, pleasantest and richest plantation of New Albion in North Virginia. (London, s.n., 1641).</ref> The state of Delaware was originally part of the William Penn's Pennsylvania colony. In 1682, the Duke of York granted Penn's request for access to the sea and leased him the territory along the western shore of Delaware Bay which became known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware."<ref></ref> In 1704, these three lower counties were given political autonomy to form a separate provincial assembly, but shared its provincial governor with Pennsylvania until the two colonies separated on June 15, 1776 and remained separate as states after the establishment of the United States. The name also became used as a collective name for the Lenape, a Native American people (and their language) who inhabited an area of the basins of the Susquehanna River, Delaware River, and lower Hudson River in the northeastern United States at the time of European settlement.<ref></ref> As a result of disruption following the French & Indian War, American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, the name "Delaware" has been spread with the Lenape's diaspora to municipalities, counties and other geographical features in the American Midwest and Canada.<ref></ref>

Watershed

The Delaware River's drainage basin has an area of Template:Convert and encompasses 42 counties and 838 municipalities in five U.S. states—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware.<ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan">Philadelphia Water Department. "Moving from Assessment to Protection…The Delaware River Watershed Source Water Protection Plan" (PWSID #1510001) Template:Webarchive (June 2007). Retrieved July 17, 2013.</ref>Template:Rp This total area constitutes approximately 0.4% of the land mass in the United States.<ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan" />Template:Rp In 2001, the watershed was 18% agricultural land, 14% developed land, and 68% forested land. <ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan" />Template:Rp

There are 216 tributary streams and creeks—an estimated 14,057 miles of streams and creeks—in the watershed.<ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan" />Template:Rp While the watershed is home to 4.17 million people according to the 2000 Federal Census, these bodies of water provide drinking water to 17 million people—roughly 6% of the population of the United States.<ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan" />Template:Rp The waters of the Delaware River's basin are used to sustain "fishing, transportation, power, cooling, recreation, and other industrial and residential purposes."<ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan" />Template:Rp It is the 33rd largest river in the United States in terms of flow, but the nation's most heavily used rivers in daily volume of tonnage.<ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan" />Template:Rp The average annual flow rate of the Delaware is 11,700 cubic feet per second at Trenton, New Jersey.<ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan" />Template:Rp With no dams or impediments on the river's main stem, the Delaware is one of the few remaining large free-flowing rivers in the United States.<ref name="PhillyWaterDelRWatershedPlan" />Template:Rp

Course

West Branch of the Delaware

The West Branch of the Delaware River (also called the Mohawk Branch) spans approximately Template:Convert from the northern Catskill Mountains to where it joins in confluence with the Delaware River's East Branch at Hancock, New York. The last Template:Convert forms part of the boundary between New York and Pennsylvania.

The West Branch rises in Schoharie County, New York at Template:Convert above sea level, near Mount Jefferson, and flows tortuously through the plateau in a deep trough. The branch flows generally southwest, entering Delaware County and flowing through the towns of Stamford and Delhi. In southwestern Delaware County it flows in an increasingly winding course through the mountains, generally southwest. At Stilesville the West Branch was impounded in the 1960s to form the Cannonsville Reservoir, the westernmost of the reservoirs in the New York City water system. It is the most recently constructed New York City reservoir and began serving the city in 1964. Draining a large watershed of Template:Convert, the reservoir's capacity is Template:Convert. This water flows over halfway through the reservoir to enter the Template:Convert West Delaware Tunnel in Tompkins, New York. Then it flows through the aqueduct into the Rondout Reservoir, where the water enters the Template:Convert Delaware Aqueduct, that contributes to roughly 50% of the city's drinking water supply. At Deposit, on the border between Broome and Delaware counties, it turns sharply to the southeast and is paralleled by New York State Route 17. It joins the East Branch at Template:Convert above sea level at Hancock to form the Delaware.

East Branch of the Delaware

File:East Branch Delaware River at Margaretville, NY.jpg
The East Branch of the Delaware River near Margaretville, New York

Similarly, the East Branch begins from a small pond south of Grand Gorge in the town of Roxbury in Delaware County, flowing southwest toward its impoundment by New York City to create the Pepacton Reservoir, the largest reservoir in the New York City water supply system. Its tributaries are the Beaver Kill River and the Willowemoc Creek which enter into the river ten miles (16 km) before the West Branch meets the East Branch. The confluence of the two branches is just south of Hancock.

Both the East Branch and West Branch of the Delaware River parallel each other, both flowing in a southwesterly direction.

Upper Delaware Valley

From Hancock, New York, the river flows between the northern Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, and the lowered shale beds north of the Catskills. The river flows down a broad Appalachian valley, passing Hawk's Nest overlook on the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. The river flows southeast for 78 miles through rural regions along the New York-Pennsylvania border to Port Jervis and the Shawangunk Mountains.