History of The Delaware River
Delaware (river), river in the eastern
United States, one of the major rivers of the region.
The Delaware rises on the western slopes of the Catskill
Mountains in eastern New York. At that point, the river
consists of two branches: the West Branch and the East
Branch. The West Branch is the chief branch; it flows
southwest as far as Deposit, New York, and then turns
southeast. From a point near Hale Eddy, New York, to
Hancock, New York, it forms the boundary between Pennsylvania
and New York. The East Branch parallels the course of
the West Branch above Deposit. The two branches meet
at Hancock. From this point, the Delaware, flowing southeast,
continues as the New York-Pennsylvania boundary as far
as Port Jervis, New York. There it becomes the boundary
between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, following a generally
southern course to its outlet in Delaware Bay. The lower
Delaware forms the boundary between New Jersey and Delaware
for a few miles. Important tributaries of the Delaware
include the Neversink, Calicoon, and Mongaup rivers
in New York; Lehigh, Schuylkill, and Lackawaxen rivers
in Pennsylvania; and the Maurice and Musconetcong rivers
in New Jersey. The West Branch flows for 145 km (90
mi) and the East Branch flows for 121 km (75 mi). It
is 451 km (280 mi) from the junction of the two branches
to Delaware Bay. The Delaware River drains an area of
about 31,100 sq km (about 12,000 sq mi).
The Delaware is a source of hydroelectric
power and an important waterway. It is navigable by
large, oceangoing vessels as far inland as Philadelphia
and by smaller vessels to Trenton, New Jersey. A canal
once connected Trenton to New Brunswick, New Jersey,
on the Raritan River. The canal has been filled in at
numerous points, such as Manville and New Brunswick.
The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal connects the Delaware
River below Wilmington, Delaware, with Chesapeake Bay.
The canal is navigable by oceangoing vessels. Through
the Delaware River Basin Commission, created in 1961,
the federal government and the four Basin states-New
York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware-jointly
manage Basin assets and problems.
On the evening of December 25, 1776,
George Washington led his troops across the Delaware.
The next day, he and his troops defeated German mercenaries
allied with the British (Hessians) in the Battle of
Sections of the Delaware River are
particularly scenic. These sections include the Catskills
between New York and Pennsylvania, known as the Upper
Delaware, and the area between New Jersey and Pennsylvania
that makes up the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation
Delaware Water Gap, gorge, northeastern
United States, carved by the Delaware River through
the Kittatinny Mountains (a ridge of the Appalachian
Mountains system), between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The gorge, about 3 km (about 2 mi) long, is flanked
on the western, or Pennsylvania, side by Mount Minsi
and on the eastern, or New Jersey, side by Mount Tammany.
Both cliffs rise to about 365 m (about 1200 ft) above
the river. The gorge ranks among the scenic wonders
of the United States. In 1965 it was designated part
of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The
gorge also has a long cultural history; Native Americans
first lived in the river valley about 8000BC.
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